Argentinians Sentenced in Du Pont Extortion Scheme
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ The mastermind of a plot to extort $10 million from the Du Pont Co. in exchange for documents stolen from its Lycra plant in Argentina was sentenced Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Longobardi sentenced two of 52-year-old Bruno Skerianz’s accomplices, Raul Armando Giordano, 37, and Antonio Ruben Inigo, 40, to 3 1/2 years each.
Longobardi also ordered the three to serve three years probation and pay $100 to a Du Pont compensation fund.
The defendants’ attorneys said they would appeal.
Du Pont spokeman R. John Malloy said, ″I think the sentence will be a strong deterrent for those who might consider doing similar things.″
Prosecutors said Du Pont, a Wilmington-based chemicals manufacturer, was given the choice of paying $10 million for the documents or having them sold to a competitor. The documents were stolen from Du Pont’s Lycra plant in Mercedes, Argentina.
Lycra is Du Pont’s trade name for spandex, an elastic fiber used in such clothing as swimsuits and leotards.
A jury convicted the three Argentines in December on one count each of conspiracy to extort and attempted extortion. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five year’s probation.
A fourth defendant, Jose Petrosino, is fighting extradition from Italy. Charges against Maria I. Lorenzo de Bianchini, who testified for the prosecution, were dropped.
Before passing sentence, the judge rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case.
″We’re asking for as much leniency as possible, based on their level of participation″ in the scheme, said Giordano’s lawyer, John S. Malik.
Prosecutors said Du Pont also reached an agreement in which Skerianz and his co-defendants pledged not to work in spandex production for five years and Du Pont would sell spandex yarn for five years to a company chosen by Skerianz.
The defense claimed Skerianz had not attempted extortion because he and his cohorts had planned to manufacture spandex for Radicci, an Italian textile manufacturer.
Skerianz had worked for Du Pont more than 20 years ago, and the others resigned in the fall of 1988 from the Mercedes plant.
All except Petrosini were arrested in February 1989 in Geneva after an aborted attempt to return the documents for $10 million. Petrosino was arrested several months later.
Du Pont controls more than half the spandex market worldwide, and sold more than $600 million of the product in 1988.