Photo: OpenSourceWay / Flickr, CC
A federal appeals court has ruled that documents in a kickback case involving a Dunkin’ doughnuts marketing executive were wrongly sealed by a judge, paving the way for new proceedings that could finally shed some more light on exactly what went down at the coffee-and-pastries chain when its director of external communications left after defrauding the company of nearly $400,000.The ruling came after a judge denied this reporter’s request to unseal the documents, and after that denial was appealed. The ruling potentially makes new law widening public access to federal court documents in criminal trials.
The Dunkin comms director, Carolyn Kravetz, was in charge of handling printing contracts for Dunkin’s marketing operations between August 2004 and October 2005. After she got the job she almost immediately began taking bribes for no-work contracts.
She conspired with a college buddy, Bruce Levitin, who ran Luminophore Inc., a print shop. He invoiced Kravetz for bogus work and she approved the payments. The pair split the money. Kravetz and Levitin took nearly $400,000 between them.
The scam was so successful that Kravetz was let go by Dunkin’ for unrelated reasons before the company figured out what had happened. Prosecutors said at her sentencing that she approved one bogus payment for $133,175, “right as she was going out the door.”
Kravetz and Levitin both pleaded guilty and were convicted, receiving 32 months’ probation and six months’ home confinement each. However, Massachusetts federal judge Joseph L. Tauro sealed a number of documents in the case, including some that explained why Kravetz committed her crimes and whether she had conducted a similar scheme at other companies.
Levitin admitted in a pre-sentencing report — also sealed by the court — that the pair had run a similar scheme in 2002 and 2003, prosecutors told the court. They did not detail those allegations. Kravetz — who had a previous conviction for credit card fraud — also worked at ad agency Arnold Worldwide, and PR firms Landis Communications and Edelman PR.
The appeals court said it had not previously ruled on whether sentencing memos — the sealed documents in question — were papers that the public has a right to see. Ultimately, those memos fall within the public’s right of access, the ruling states: “sentencing memoranda are judicial documents subject to the common law presumption of public access.”
The case now goes back to judge Tauro for a ruling on which documents can be released.
If you worked with Carolyn Kravetz or Bruce Levitin, please email me at [email protected] I’d love to hear your stories, on or off the record.
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