For about 50 undergraduate students taking Cornell University’s “Government 315” class this summer in New York City, their instructor is Mark Belnick, the indicted former general counsel of Tyco International Ltd. .
Belnick awaits trial on charges he stole $12 million from Tyco by accepting a bonus that the company’s board had not approved. He is also accused of falsifying business documents to conceal a $14.5 million interest-free loan from Tyco.
“It’s a very popular course,” said Christine Holmes, special programs manager for Cornell’s school of continuing education. “The students are aware of who’s teaching, and that has not hurt enrollment.”
His legal career tumbled last year when a criminal investigation by New York prosecutors in Manhattan led to criminal indictments against Belnick, former Tyco Chairman Dennis Kozlowski and ex-finance chief Mark Swartz.
Before joining Tyco in the late 1990s, Belnick was a top-flight litigator at the powerhouse law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for about 26 years. He was a protege of prominent litigator Arthur Liman, earning his reputation as a skilled attorney during the Iran-contra hearings and later handling the civil defense of junk bond king Michael Milken.
Belnick has denied the charges against him in court papers. Belnick’s lawyers have said Tyco’s outside auditor and compensation committee knew about the loans. In fact, Belnick told the auditors he owed more than what they calculated, according to court papers filed in the case.
A 1968 graduate of Cornell, Belnick worked briefly as the Ivy League school’s general counsel before returning to corporate litigation. He later joined Tyco.