This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: And from O.J., who could go to jail, to a guy who already is in jail. And I can tell you, after what I saw today, there is nothing more humbling.
Former Tyco chief Dennis Kozlowski, once a bigwig in the boardroom and among its richest, now just another guy behind bars, and talking to me today.
CAVUTO (voice-over): At first blush, you wouldn't know him from the other 1,464 inmates in this medium-security Mid-State Correctional Facility, where all are treated and punished equally, paid on average about $1 a day for a variety of chores, working in the kitchen or doing laundry.
Nothing distinct about his demeanor or his looks, until someone mentions his name, Dennis Kozlowski.
Then it all comes back, the guy with the $6,000 shower curtain and the $15,000 umbrella stand, the man who got his company, Tyco, to cough up more than $30 million for a Fifth Avenue corporate apartment in New York and to pitch in half the estimated $2 million cost for that infamous party for Kozlowski's wife on the island of Sardinia back in 2001, the party that featured an ice sculpture of David urinating vodka, images that endure far more than the rags-to-riches that preceded them of a down-and-out kid brought up in Newark, New Jersey, who would become one of the richest and most admired CEOs in American history, before becoming one of its most vilified, the guy who took Tyco from a stale $40 million manufacturing company to a $40 billion conglomerate that covered everything from security to finance and scores of companies in between.
One year, he made more than $170 million, took home hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses and stock, and borrowed that and more from the company to finance arguably one of the richest corporate lifestyles ever chronicled in American history.
Kozlowski insists it was that lifestyle that bothered jurors the most and hurt him the most.
DENNIS KOZLOWSKI, FORMER TYCO CEO: I was as surprised by this party as everybody else, surprised to see their models there, both male and female models there. It was — it was over the top.
CAVUTO: In it end, it brought him here. And, if he fails on an appeal he and his lawyers are crafting as we speak, he will stay here, two years into an eight-and-one-third to 25-year sentence that could conceivably keep him a long time.
KOZLOWSKI: Every day is Groundhog Day here.
CAVUTO: Kozlowski is philosophical about his rapid fall from grace, the guy who went from the covers of business magazines, heralded by "BusinessWeek" as among the 25 greatest CEOs, to mopping floors and working the food line.
KOZLOWSKI: I run the laundry room.
CAVUTO: There's a certain sense of reverse deja vu following Kozlowski around these grounds, that, somehow, I am seeing history repeating itself, that it is all happening again, investors angry and seeking revenge at companies that once were making them fortunes and now, instead, making headlines, and not just the good kind.
Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, no criminal activity that we know of yet, but lots of lawsuits suspecting that and more.
KOZLOWSKI: At any time there is a crisis like this, somebody gets punished. I — I think the lawyers will be — some — the plaintiff lawyers will be suing again. The defense lawyers will be doing what they need to do. And, somewhere, someplace, some prosecutors will be looking as to whether any laws were broken.
CAVUTO: Kozlowski knows this process well, going from king to crook faster than it takes your decorator to pick up $2,000 coat hangers. It's the coat hangers, and the pricey art, and the corporate plane, and the parties, it is that stuff that sticks.
(on camera): If you didn't have the umbrella stand or the shower curtain, would you be here?
KOZLOWSKI: I don't know the answer to that. I would — I would tend to believe I would not.
CAVUTO (voice-over): Perhaps, in the end, it was just bad timing for Kozlowski. After all, he was just part of a shareholder revolt that found revolting the behavior at companies like Enron, and WorldCom, and Global Crossing, and Adelphia Communications, and so many others.
But Dennis was the menace and the one of whom "The New York Post" once wrote, "Oink, Oink."
And then there's his wife, suing for divorce and wanting a full accounting of his money. The woman for whom he threw a party could throw his lawyers into a fit and maybe jeopardize the very appeal he seeks.
KOZLOWSKI: I don't think we got much beyond the ceremony.
CAVUTO: Some say Kozlowski made an easy target, but an improper one. After all, he wasn't convicted for defrauding investors or even spending too much money. He was essentially convicted of stealing his bonuses, grand larceny on a grand scale.
It does not make him a saint, Kozlowski tells me, but it doesn't make him a crook either. And, as he walks these nondescript prison halls, he hopes, against all hope, another judge and another jury someday, and someday soon, will agree.
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