Former Rite Aid exec wins bail during appeal of accounting scandal conviction

Monday, December 6th 2004, 12:23 pm
By: News On 6

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ A federal judge on Monday allowed a former Rite Aid Corp. executive convicted in an accounting scandal to remain free on bail pending appeal, at least until the Supreme Court clarifies the status of federal sentencing guidelines.

Franklin C. Brown, 76, was convicted last year of 10 criminal counts _ including conspiracy, obstruction, lying to federal regulators and witness tampering _ related to his tenure as the pharmacy chain's vice chairman and top lawyer.

He had been scheduled to turn himself in Dec. 13 to begin serving a 10-year prison term.

However, U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo said Brown is entitled to remain free until the high court rules on a pair of closely watched cases with wide implications for all federal criminal sentences. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Oct. 8 in the cases questioning whether federal sentencing guidelines are constitutional.

``A definitive resolution of the matter could be forthcoming,'' Rambo wrote in a seven-page ruling issued Monday.

Brown's lawyers had called his 10 year sentence ``a de facto death sentence'' for a man of Brown's age and with his health problems.

Defense attorney Peter Goldberger said Monday his client was relieved, ``but in the short term, for now.''

Prosecutors did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Five other one-time executives pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation of accounting fraud at Rite Aid, and financial irregularities prompted the company to retroactively lower net earnings by $1.6 billion in July 2000.

Brown is the only former Rite Aid executive to go to trial.