Thursday, September 20, 2007

Media Mafia: Cable Industry Corruption (Case File #8) - Back to Cablevision - Conspiracy, Stock Fraud & Statutory Rape as Competitive Strategies

By Alex Constantine

Continuing to lay out the world's dirtiest laundry - you find it in the cable industry, not only stateside, but globally. In Peru, Australia, the UK, Pakistan ... everywhere it's the same repulsive picture: cable television is an instrument of criminal dictatorships. ...

"Founded in 1973 as a cable television operator with 1,500 Long Island customers, today, Cablevision operates the nation's single largest cable cluster, passing more than 4.5 million households and 600,000 businesses in the New York metropolitan area with our state-of-the-art fiber-rich network." -

CHUCK F. DOLAN, Cablevision's Founder

Attended John Carroll University .... Served briefly in the U.S. Air Force at the end of World War II.

Headquartered in Long Island, New York, Dolan organized Cablevision Systems in 1973. He had started in the cable TV business a decade earlier with Sterling Television, an equipment supplier. During the 1960s Sterling acquired the franchise for Manhattan Island and when Time, Inc. purchased Sterling, Dolan used the substantial proceeds to buy some Long Island systems that he turned into Cablevision Systems. ... He also purchased and/or built cable TV systems across the United States, in Arkansas and Illinois, in Maine and Michigan, in Missouri and Ohio.

In 1988 Dolan added NBC as a minority partner. General Electric had recently purchased NBC, and prior to that had helped Dolan finance the expansion of Cablevision Systems. Thereafter Dolan, with help from NBC, moved into cable network programming in a major way.
The District Cablevision Scandal - On Marion Barry, Political Graft & the Hidden Hand of TCI

Origin of the company from the Cablevision Timeline: " ... 1985 establishes District Cablevision Limited Partnership (Washington DC cable tv unit, 75% owned by AT&T [originally Heritage Communications, founded by Jim Cownie], 25% by Cablevision) ... "

Wiring Washington
How to make a killing in cable.
Thomas W. Hazlett | February 2000

Back in 1985, the bidding for the cable TV franchise in the nation's capital brought out 100 brave entrepreneurs who invested $1.4 million in a company called District Cablevision. In November 1999, those selfless risk-takers finally cashed out. When the register stopped cha-chinging, they had ended up with $41 million--a whopping 29-to-1 markup. To understand just how fat a return that is, consider that over the same time the S&P 500 has grown a relatively lean 7-to-1.

To get into a deal as superb as the District Cablevision scam, you had to know someone. To be precise, you had to know Mayor Marion Barry--and know him well. The District Cablevision "investment team" included Barry's advisers, friends in government, pals in business, and associates in politics--including a city department head, a Democratic National Committee member, and a big contributor to the mayor's campaigns. These important folks were given 25 percent of the District Cablevision franchise, a $130-million investment, in exchange for about 1 percent of the actual capital cost.

This sort of deal--typical of the arrangements that helped wire America for cable--sanctioned a form of graft in the name of "the public interest." In the late 1970s, when the feds finally allowed cities to issue cable franchises, it took only an instant for local bigwigs and cable operators to realize that they could combine forces and end up really rich.

Enter TCI:

District Cablevision and Subterfuge
Washington Business Journal - July 12, 1996

Word that the District of Columbia has closed its eyes to the true nature of District Cablevision's ownership and management is highly disturbing, but not surprising. (See story, Page 1.)

The cable television operator has a virtual monopoly on cable television services in the District, yet it enjoys minority status under the city's 1981 cable television law.

Indeed, a company wrapped in the cloak of a minority business is sending 99 percent of its profits to its real owner -- TeleCommunications Inc. in Colorado.

This was not a blatant violation of the city law. TCI, a financial partner of the titular minority business, Robert Johnson's D.C.-based BET Holdings, gained control of District Cablevision piece by piece, in full view of the D.C. city council.

Ownership and financing -- even the board -- are controlled by TCI, one of the largest communications companies in America. (Perhaps you remember the company for its billion-dollar bid to buy Time Inc. not too long ago.)

Each new level of control was approved by the city council, which was either asleep at the switch or so unaware of business that its members wouldn't know a deficit from a hole in the ground.

We think both of the above council excuses were at work in the case of the District Cablevision subterfuge.

The company is clearly violating the spirit of the District's 1981 law, which says that "rent-a-citizens" are specifically and strongly discouraged from fronting for other businesses.

Sanctions should be imposed against District Cablevision: It has been granted the right to operate a business with virtually no competition in our nation's capital.

It's time for an independent audit and for the council to unplug this sorry situation.
Hearst/Cablevision Newschannel - Lucrative Marriage

" ... Hearst [for decades a fascist propaganda outlet; see esp. the books of George Seldes] participates in ... a joint investment in the New England Newschannel with Cablevision, Inc. one of the country's largest Multiple System Operators ... ",M1
Cablevision and GE

" ... Rainbow Programming Holdings [is] a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation. ... Twenty-five percent of Rainbow is owned by General Electric's NBC division. ... "
Cablevision, RCA & GE Media Monopolization & Ronald Reagan

Che-Lives E-Zine: Fueling the Conservative Propaganda Machine - Media and Entertainment - January 10 @ 00:00:00 UTC

By NY_Che21

" .. the support of large corporations by the Reagan presidency allowed the reversal of anti-trust laws that led to the merger of General Electric and RCA, the two largest defense suppliers, during which the parties involved purchased nearly 2.7 billion dollars of broadcasting media including cable television channels and provider Cablevision. This excessive corporate power and cooperation with government elites threatens the act of self-government of the people that is guaranteed with a democracy. How can a truly ‘Free Press’ emerge from corporate system aided by the government? ... "
Cablevision and the Oyston Affair


Owen Oyston is a multi-millionaire liberal publisher in the UK. He is a convicted statutory rapist. Oyston was also a left-wing media magnate, an associate of Tony Blair (see below), the grist of many tabloid scandal stories in the UK. A Cablevision executive in cahoots with the ultra-con Thatcher government engineered the "conspiracy," as Oyston referred to it, to imprison him.

From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph (May 9, 1997): " ... tapes were handed over to Oyston by Murrin to support legal action against Lord Blaker [and Thatcherites] Atkins and Bill Harrison. On one tape, Lord Blaker is recorded as saying he wanted Oyston 'behind bars.' After Oyston was sent to prison, Lord Blaker's solicitors issued a statement on his behalf in which he denied Oyston's allegations and said he would have been prepared to give evidence in the trial of Oyston, if asked.The accised claimed complete innocence, but was forced to admit that some of the charges against him had merit."

Owen Oyston served three years hard time as a result of Cablevision's "conspiracy" against a feared competitor. The charges weren't all false, but they weren't all true, either. He had an affair with a 16-year old girl. It's certain, however, that the conviction of Oyston benefited Cablevision and the Thatcher government greatly:

 Our Friends in the North West: The Owen Oyston Affair [Lobster, issue 34 - 1998]

" ... the fifties, a cold war warrior as Tory MP for Blackpool South from 1964, a junior Defence Minister and a Foreign Office Minister in the Thatcher governments. He has listed directorships in Central Lancashire Television, East Lancshire Cablevision, East Coast Cablevision and a consultancy with BT. LORD BLAKER has said his interests in these firms, which were rival bidders against Oyston for licences, prompted his moral and financial support for Murrin's investigations into Oyston. Bill Harrison was a grocer who became one of Lancashire's most successful property developers. ... ",+a+cold+war+warrior+as+Tory+MP+for+Blackpool+South+from+1964,+a+junior+Defence+Minister+and+a+Foreign+Office+Minister+in+the+Thatcher+governments.+He+has+listed+directorships+in+Central+Lancashire+Television,+East+Lancshire+Cablevision,&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Wikipedia on Lord Blaker: "Sir Peter Allan Renshaw Blaker, Baron Blaker KCMG PC (born 4 October 1922) is a British Conservative politician. In parliament, he served as a Minister for the Army (1972-74), Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1974 and 1979-81) and the Armed Forces (1979-81). He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1983. He was MP for Blackpool South from 1964 until he retired in 1992. In 1994 he accepted a life peerage and became Baron Blaker, of Blackpool in the County of Lancaster and of Lindfield in the County of West Sussex.",_Baron_Blaker

Oyston names conspirators

From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, first published Thursday 9th May 1996.

MILLIONAIRE Owen Oyston told police he had been subjected to a "very nasty and vicious" campaign for 10 to 12 years.

In court this week, he named Lord Blaker - formerly Blackpool South MP Sir Peter Blaker - and ex-sports minister Robert Atkins, MP for South Ribble, as having mounted the conspiracy against him.

The colourful chairman of Blackpool Football Club, a life-long Labour supporter, told Liverpool Crown Court that he had 48 hours of tape recordings of conversations between Lord Blaker, Mr Atkins, Blackpool businessman William Harrison, a man named Michael Murrin "and a whole range of other senior people in the Conservative party".

Oyston, 62, said the tapes showed Blaker, Harrison and Atkins "were running a conspiracy against me and members of the North West Labour Party."

Earlier, Det Con Martyn Hughes had told the court, where Oyston denies raping two teenagers, that at the start of an interview in February last year the accused had told him he believed his arrest was linked to the alleged conspiracy.

The officer said Oyston had told him on his arrest at his home, Claughton Hall, near Lancaster, that it had come only three weeks before a civil case against the two politicians had been due to come before the High Court.

The civil action did not come to court because of "a lawyer's mistake," but was now being pursued through the European Court of Human Rights.

Oyston told the jury that at one time he was being investigated by the Fraud Squad, the Inland Revenue, the Drugs Squad, the City's regulatory takeover body IMRO, international private investigators, the Insight team from the Sunday Times, and other newspapers.

"They tried to bring the world down upon me and others associated with me," he said.

Replying to his defence counsel, Anthony Scrivener QC, he said he had been cleared of wrong-doing by all those bodies.

Yesterday (May 8) - the ninth day of the trial - Oyston repeated claims that the two Tory politicians had co-ordinated attacks on his business activities.

Oyston also spoke of staying frequently at the Hilton Hotel with the first girl in the case.

The girl, a model and former beauty queen, has told the trial Oyston raped her on the second occasion she met him.

Oyston told the court that he had spent thousands in cash and clothes on the girl over a period of years, adding: "I am embarrassed about the sums involved. I gave her money for a car, money for clothes."

Oyston denies raping the woman at his home in 1989, when she was 18.

He also denies raping and indecently assaulting the second young woman when she was 16.

The tycoon and his wife Vicki divorced in 1982 and remarried six years later.

He said that in the intervening period, when he was chief executive of the Miss World group, he had "a lot of girlfriends".

He added: "I have always had a great respect for women.

"I have never had this kind of problem. My character is totally without blemish. That is why I am so deeply distressed and I am also angry - that is the only thing that has kept me going."

Oyston jailed for six years.

From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, first published Thursday 23rd May 1996.

OWEN Oyston was last night (May 22) sentenced to a total of six years in jail after being found guilty of raping a young model and indecently assaulting her.

The judge, Mr Justice McCullough, told the 62-year-old Blackpool Football Club chairman: "She was young and vulnerable.

"I don't believe she led you on in any way. It is impossible to know to what extent she has been traumatised by her experiences on that night."

Oyston stood impassive in the dock at Liverpoool Crown Court as sentenced was passed. His wife Vicki smiled at him as he was taken down.

A few minutes earlier, after more than seven hours of deliberations, the jury had found Oyston not guilty of the rape of another young model, Girl A.

The judge said of Oyston's attitude towards Girl B: "You have consistently placed your interests above hers and shown no remorse."

He had denied raping Girl A in 1989 and Girl B in 1991 at his home, Claughton Hall, near Lancaster. The indecent assault took place in the back of a sports car as they were being driven to the castle.

Mr McCullough said: "You were 58: Miss B was 16. You were rich and powerful with a strong personality."

He said Oyston had in many ways been generous to the community - but that was of minor relevance. "You thought you had got away with it."

Oyston was sentenced to six years for the rape and three years for the indecent assault, both sentences to run concurrently.

Mrs Oyston spent five minutes with her husband in the cells, then left the court flanked by her family. Son Adam had a comforting arm around her, but she made no comment to the press.

A few minutes later they were followed by Gill Bridge, managing director of Blackpool Football Club, and family friend Louise Ellman, leader of Lancashire County Council.

Mr Michael Burne, solicitor for Oyston, said: "We will be looking carefully at grounds for an appeal."

Earlier, the court had heard Mr Justice McCullough, in his summing-up, tell the jury that lies had undoubtedly been told from the witness box during the 16-day trial. But he reminded them that it was not a court of morals.

"In each case the evidence of the person making the allegations and the defendant differs starkly," said the judge.

"Can it be explained by mistaken recollection or by imagination or is it that you have been told lies, indeed lie after lie after lie, in the form of deliberate perjury designed to mislead you into delivering a false verdict?"

He said the jury must use its common sense, knowledge of human nature and experience of life. It was not for him to suggest which witness or witnesses had lied but he added: "Lies, you may think, have undoubtedly been told."

The judge said there were a number of similarities between the rape accounts given by the two models and asked if it was possible that they had put their heads together or that a third party had put them up to making false allegations against him.

"Might the similarities simply be explained by coincidence, or is the only realistic explanation that the defendant did behave in the circumstances and in the way they have described?"
The judge warned the jury to try the case without regard to their feelings.

"This is not a court of morals," he said. "You must not let your feelings cloud your judgment."

Wiki: ... Oyston, who had a financial interest in a modelling agency, was accused of raping around six girls. However, he was acquitted on all but one of the charges after he admitted having relationships with his accusers. Much was made of the fact that Oyston's only high-profile TV appearance during his acting career was in the 1970s TV series Crown Court. In the final case, relating to a girl who was around 16 years of age at the time of the offence in the early 1990s, he did not admit having intercourse with her and was convicted of a single offence of rape, for which he was jailed for six years. Oyston continued to insist on his innocence, claiming that he had been framed in an elaborate conspiracy involving business rivals and government ministers. The case and the preceding police investigation saw questions raised in the House of Commons, particularly by MP, Dale Campbell-Savours.

After his appeal against conviction failed, the Radio Authority ruled in December 1998 that he was not a fit person to own a radio station, and he was forced to relinquish control of The Bay (Morecambe Bay), Heart Beat 1521 (Craigavon), Gold Beat (Cookstown) and City Beat 96.7 (Belfast). He also stood down as chairman of Blackpool F.C.

He was released from prison in December 1999, thanks to a judicial review of the Parole Board's refusal to grant parole. In the twelve months after his release, he was not seen in public, and became a recluse in his Claughton Hall home.[1]

He continued to operate his various businesses, although he quit the position of director of the football club. He returned to estate agencies and to glossy magazines. He relaunched the "Oystons" estate agency and has revived two previously low-profile Ridings Publications titles, The Lancashire Magazine and The Yorkshire Magazine, with managers and journalists who previously worked with him on the "Life" series of county magazines.

Oyston was the subject of controversy again in 2007, when he was invited to a Labour Party fundraising event held by newly-appointed Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 12th July. A spokesman for Brown said, "Mr Brown did not meet Mr Oyston, nor was he aware of his presence in advance. Mr Brown has asked the general secretary of the Labour Party to investigate the circumstances, but he has already instructed him that any donation from Mr Oyston should not be accepted."[2]

Millionaire rapist Owen Oyston released on parole

Paul Kelso
Wednesday December 8, 1999
The Guardian

Owen Oyston, the millionaire businessman jailed for the rape and indecent assault of a 16-year old girl, was released from prison yesterday after serving 3 years of a six-year sentence.

Oyston, 65, was released on parole after a successful high court appeal against a parole board decision in October to deny him early release because he had not admitted the offences. He will have to sign the sex offenders' register as part of the conditions of release. ...

Oyston forced the girl to have oral sex with him in the back of a car before raping her at Claughton Hall in 1991 while another girl was present.

The girl brought a civil action against Oyston in March for psychological damage, which he settled out of court. She still receives help from the victim support scheme.

Oyston, who at one time owned the Miss World group, met the girl through a model agency run by his former friend, Peter Martin, an ex-policeman serving 20 years for the systematic rape and sexual abuse of girls put in his care by their parents.

At the time of the trial Oyston claimed he had been the victim of a dirty tricks campaign, and distributed a 72-page glossy booklet - "the Oyston file" - detailing the allegations to reporters as the jury considered its verdict. In it he claimed former Conservative ministers and a businessman had conspired against him. Yesterday he repeated allegations of a conspiracy, claiming police had been told by a businessman in the West Midlands three months before his arrest that he had paid £5,000 to a woman to "set Owen up".

Oyston has appealed to the European court for his conviction to be overturned.,,245751,00.html

On Oyston and Tony Blair

Item from: Balding Celebrities, 20 September, 2007 - " ... a fundraising dinner for the Labour Party this week, alongside Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and a string of celebrities. Owen Oyston, who served three-and-a-half years in jail for attacking a 16-year-old girl, was invited by party chiefs to the 1,000-ahead. when their name is placed on a register of those formally under investigation. ... "

More Lord Blaker and Conspiracy Accusations

'Dirty tricks' activist backs court bid
1999 | October | 15

From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, first published Friday 15th Oct 1999.

FRANK MCGRATH, Deputy leader of Preston Council in the Thatcher years, is getting help from the political activist who spent 13 years trying to wreck his career in 'a truly fiendish plot'.

Michael Murrin, a Preston insurance agent and former owner of a fish and chip shop in Longridge, ran an undercover campaign from his home in Goodwood Avenue, Fulwood, against the Labour councillor and his friend the millionaire tycoon, Owen Oyston.

But last week, over cups of tea at McGrath's home in Fulwood, the two men agreed to co-operate on a case in which McGrath has been given legal aid to sue, among others, the chief constables of Lancashire and Merseyside and two former Tory government ministers over the theft of his income tax secrets.

The meeting between McGrath and Murrin followed the sudden death in hospital in August of the Blackpool property millionaire, Bill Harrison.

Murrin said his campaign against McGrath and Oyston had been partly-funded by Harrison, who had hosted Mrs Thatcher at his home on several occasions.

"I have been trying for years to find out who and what was behind this plot", said McGrath. "During one of the many court cases, I learned from the Crown Prosecution Service that my political opponents had been reading my personal income tax files. I believe this was a breach of the Official Secrets Acts and that my records were illegally bought and sold."

Lord Blaker

Initially, Murrin's name was included with former Blackpool MP Lord Blaker and MEP, former South Ribble MP Sir Robert Atkins and Bill Harrison on the list of people being sued by McGrath.

"But", said McGrath, "Michael Murrin agreed to come and talk to me about the dirty tricks campaign and show me his documents and tape recordings which reveal how a truly fiendish plot was mounted against me and my associates.

"The meeting went well and I have promised Michael that in view of the help he is giving me, I will be indemnifying him against any actions brought against him in the case.

"Although he was a persistent and dangerous political opponent I have discovered that I like him. It was just an accident that we ended on opposite sides of the political battle lines."

For years Murrin campaigned to prove that McGrath, his leader Harold Parker, a former Mayor of Preston, and the Labour leader of Lancashire County Council, Mrs Louise Ellman were being influenced by friendship with the "socialist millionaire" Owen Oyston.

In 1987 McGrath had become a millionaire through his personal investment in Oyston's Red Rose Radio. However, on August 7, 1991, a 20-man team of police detectives on "Operation Angel" conducted 19 raids on Preston Town Hall, the business offices and homes of Frank McGrath and Harold Parker and council officials.

Police revealed later that Murrin was one of the informants behind "Operation Angel".

Twenty-one people, including Preston's chief executive, deputy chief executive and deputy Labour leader were charged with various offences of corruption, conspiracy and theft.

But in the six years since the Angel raids, the only people convicted of any offences have been the owners of four small businesses and two minor council officials, all but one of whom had already been reported to police by the council before the police operations began. Lord Justice Nolan found that all the raids and searches on the council leaders were unlawful and all those charged under Angel with deception, corruption and conspiracy to defraud have had the charges dropped by the CPS or have been found not guilty in court and awarded defence costs out of public funds.

Deputy Chief Executive Hugh McClorry, who was sacked and charged with conspiring to defraud the Department of the Environment of £650,00, had the case against him dropped at Crown Court, won compensation for unfair dismissal and got a declaration from the council that there was "no incompetence and no misconduct" in his work. He is now the Town Clerk of Kendal.

When the CPS withdrew charges against Deputy Labour leader McGrath at Liverpool Crown Court, Mr Justice Forbes determined that all charges against the councillor had been "concluded in Mr McGrath's favour". No councillor was convicted of any offence.

McGrath said: "In December 1993, I was told that the cost of the investigations into my cases alone had passed the figure of £7.8 million. Angel police salaries alone, paid out by a hard-pressed force which has had to make many budget sacrifices, must have cost more than £3.5 million."

He said the Angel team, which has run under two Chief Constables and three Commerce Branch chiefs, at times included 36 detectives, who visited Germany, Spain, Jersey and the Isle of Man in their investigations. "The amazing size of the investigation and its paltry fruit demand explanations from those in authority."

This week Murrin said his long investigations had "cost me 14 years of my life and two businesses; I have been involved in three sets of bankruptcy proceedings. I haven't a penny to hire lawyers." It was time, he said, for "a full inquiry" and promised McGrath every assistance.

McGrath said : "The death of Mr Harrison will not seriously affect my legal action. I will sue his estate."
••••••••••••••••••••••••Stock Fraud•••••••••••••••••••••••
Cablevision Receives DOJ Subpoena

Two directors resign from the audit committee
Stephen Taub,
September 21, 2006

Cablevision Systems said it has received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York seeking documents related to its stock options issues. The company also said in a regulatory filing that it received a document request from the Securities and Exchange commission relating to its informal investigation into these matters. The company assured stockholders it intends to fully cooperate with the investigations.

In addition, the company said that Richard Hochman resigned from the board's compensation committee and the audit committee, and Victor Oristano resigned from the audit committee. Hochman and Oristano said in their respective letters that they believe it is in the best interest of the company for them to step down from these positions in light of the public attention generated by the company's restatement tied to the stock option review, as well as "the numerous shareholder lawsuits filed in the wake of that decision naming them, among others, as defendants."

The company also announced that it has restated its financial statements for the three years ended 2005, all quarterly periods in 2004 and 2005 and the first quarter of 2006. As a result, the company adjusted its net loss by more than $89 million for the period January 1, 1997 through March 31, 2006.

Cablevision also reported that derivative lawsuits have been filed in New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Delaware Chancery Court, by shareholders acting on behalf of the company. The lawsuits name as defendants certain present and former members of Cablevision's board and certain present and former executive officers, alleging breaches of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment relating to practices with respect to the dating of stock options, recordation and accounting for stock options, financial statements and SEC filings, according to the company's regulatory filing.

In early August, the company said it had undertaken a voluntary review of its past practices in connection with grants of stock options and Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs). As a result of the review, the company determined that the date and exercise price assigned to a number of its stock option and SAR grants during the 1997 to 2002 period did not correspond to the actual grant date and the closing price of the company's common stock on the actual grant date, it stated.

In addition to grant dating issues, the company's review identified certain modifications made to outstanding stock option grants prior to 2002, principally extensions of expiration dates that were not accounted for properly, it reported in its filing.

Also, two awards of options and one option modification were incorrectly accounted for as having been granted to employees or modified for employees, it said. One of these two awards was to the company’s former compensation consultant (which was subsequently cancelled in 2003) and the other award related to an executive officer whose death occurred after the stated grant date of the award and before the actual grant date, the company noted.

"The company's Board of Directors and senior management believe that the practices related to the granting of options … are contrary to the high ethical standards they believe should apply to all of the Company’s business practices,” Cablevision stated in its filing.

Cablevision Investors Sue Comp Advisor - Backdating backlash hits Cablevision's former compensation

consultant in what may be a first-of-a-kind lawsuit.
Stephen Taub, - November 28, 2006

The options backdating scandal may be entering a new phase. Shareholders, suing Cablevision over its options practices, have filed an amended complaint alleging that the media company's outside compensation consultant, Lyons Benenson & Co., knowingly participated in the illegal backdating of options. Reportedly, this is one of the first cases that accuses a compensation firm of playing a direct role in the scandal.
The amended suit, filed by Grant & Eisenhofer on behalf of shareholders led by the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, alleges that Lyons Benenson attended compensation committee meetings during which backdated options were granted in violation of the company's employee option plan, and that the consultant provided the committee with advice and documentation to facilitate the grants, according to a press release fired off by the law firm. ...

"Just as shocking as the fact that these blatant violations occurred in the first place is that they took place under the watch of a supposedly independent compensation consultant," said Stuart Grant, lead counsel to the plaintiffs' group, in a statement. "As with the disclosure that the company had awarded options to its deceased vice chairman, the fact that a benefits consultant may have had a direct hand in the illegal backdating is another example of how Cablevision's compensation practices reached some singular lows."

In August, the cable giant said it plans to restate all of its financials dating back to 1997 stemming from a review of its stock options practices.

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