2008-10-17 / Business News

Cuti, Ex-Duane Reade Exec Who Sued Locals, Is Indicted

By Howard Schwach

Two former top executives of pharmacy giant Duane Reade were indicted last week on charges of falsely reducing company expenses and inflating profits in official documents, court officials say. One of those executives is Anthony Cuti, who was the company CEO and was intimately involved in the 2003 lawsuit against both The Wave and local artist Patrick Clark.

The lawsuit began with a full-page advertisement in the March 29, 2003 issue of The Wave in which Clark accused the company, which was then in the process of opening a pharmacy outlet right across the parking lot from the planned Tribute Park, with being a bad neighbor because of the corporation's plans to erect a large and brightly lit rooftop sign on the new building.

"Take Down The Sign and Boycott Duane Reade," Clark's paid advertisement blared.

In May, Duane Reade filed suit for libel against the paper and Clark in Queens Supreme Court.

In an interview with the New York Times at the time, Cuti said, "I think the vehicle for responding to statements that are blatantly wrong and malicious is the use of the courts."

Eventually, the suit was decided in favor of both Clark, who was represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, and The Wave, and the decision made new case law that involved the use of the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) Suit process, which forbids suits against citizens or organizations that speak out during the public permitting process.

At the time, the Law Journal termed the lawsuit against The Wave and Clark, "A thinly veiled attempt by a corporate giant to bully the little guys."

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York this week announced that Cuti had provided false information during negotiations over the purchase of Duane Reade by a private equity firm nearly two years ago.

"The defendants are alleged to have deceived the investing public by providing false and misleading information about Duane Reade's financial condition while lining their own pockets with millions of dollars in compensation," a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney said.

Cuti is also charged with making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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