Former Federated CEO James Zimmerman was indicted for lying to prosecutors during a probe of whether the firm was trying to keep tableware from Waterford and Lenox out of rival Bed, Bath & Beyond.
If found guilty of lying under oath during a probe by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office, Zimmerman could face as many as seven years in prison.
Zimmerman, 61, who was chairman of Federated, parent of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, until last January, pleaded not guilty to the sole count. His attorney, Thomas Fitzpatrick, refuted the charges.
Zimmerman “has been indicted for failing to recall a portion of a single, brief telephone conversation that occurred almost three years before his testimony,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “It is most unfortunate that the New York Attorney General’s office has chosen to bring these charges against such a respected and honest corporate leader whose integrity is beyond reproach.”
Zimmerman, who was released on $50,000 bail, was arraigned before Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice James Yates.
“It ultimately will become perfectly clear that he told the truth and that he did not intentionally mislead the examiner,” Fitzpatrick said.
Last summer, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Federated agreed to pay $900,000 to settle the charges.
Federated “agreed to settle in order to avoid protracted court action and the resulting distraction to its business,” the company said in a statement yesterday.
Prosecutors typically bring perjury and obstruction cases when they can’t make other charges, lawyers said.