2 former top executives at semiconductor company plead guilty to conspiracy charge in NYC

The founder of a California-based semiconductor company and its ex-chief financial officer have pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct an anticipated federal investigation after New York prosecutors dropped more serious claims.

The pleas were made Thursday by Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. founder Louis Tomasetta (tahm-ah-SEHT'-uh) and Eugene Hovanec (HOH'-vah-nehk) in federal court in Manhattan. They admit conspiring to destroy or falsify records related to Vitesse's April and October 2001 stock option grants.

Prosecutors say the men tried to destroy the records because they believed an investigation would occur.

Tomasetta lives in Ojai (OH'-hy), Calif. Hovanec lives in Westlake Village, Calif.

A plea agreement says prosecutors will recommend probation for them "in light of the unique factual circumstances of this case."

Sentencing is set for Nov. 4.

Vitesse says it was founded in 1984 to develop integrated circuits for high-performance electronics.