Former 'Newsday' Exec Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Robert Brennan Was VP-Circulation During Period of Inflated Circ Figures

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A former Newsday executive has reportedly pleaded guilty to charges related to the circulation scandal at the paper, making him the first official to officially take legal blame for the imbroglio.


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The executive, Robert Brennan, was VP-circulation until Newsday, part of the Tribune Co., fired him in June 2004, as the paper investigated inflated figures going back to 2002.

Bevy of circulation scandals
Advertisers have been unnerved by a bevy of circulation scandals over the past few years, not just at Newsday but also at magazine publisher Gruner & Jahr USA, which has since sold its titles and closed shop. Last July, the office of U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf slapped Time Inc. with a subpoena seeking information about its circulation practices; the company continues to say only that it is cooperating fully.

In another case, on March 3 a judge agreed to allow prosecutors to continue plea negotiations with an executive accused of trying to inflate circulation numbers at Laptop magazine.

Secret guilty plea
Mr. Brennan secretly pleaded guilty to mail fraud and income tax-evasion a few weeks ago at the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, according to an article in Newsday, which said the plea came as part of an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors. The tax-evasion charge stemmed from a $30,000 check he received from a subcontractor in 2003 without his bosses' authorization, the article said.

His attorney, Edward McDonald, did not return a call seeking comment. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for Ms. Mauskopf, declined to comment.

In a statement, Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams said Tribune and the paper "fully cooperated" with the authorities' investigation and will continue to do so. "Newsday is focused on serving its readers and advertisers in the best way it can going forward."

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