Former McAfee lawyer pleads innocent
in backdating case
Screen shot courtesy McAfee,
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
March 1, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The former general counsel of McAfee
Inc. pleaded not guilty in federal court in San Francisco today
to seven criminal charges related to the backdating of stock options
for the Santa Clara-based computer security company.
U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero allowed Kent Roberts, 50, of Dallas,
to remain free on a $1 million unsecured bond based on property
Roberts owns in Texas.
Roberts was ordered to appear Monday before U.S. District Judge
Marilyn Patel, the judge who will preside over his trial, for
the setting of future court dates.
He is accused in an indictment issued Tuesday of changing dates
for a stock option grant for himself in 2000 and for the company's
chief executive officer in 2002. At the time he worked for Network
Associates, which later merged with McAfee.
Roberts was fired as McAfee's top lawyer last May.
The seven criminal charges include mail fraud, wire fraud, falsifying
company board minutes and filing false statements before the Securities
and Exchange Commission.
Backdating an option to buy company stock is not illegal in itself,
but it is illegal to make false statements in government and company
records about the practice.
Roberts's lawyer, Stephen Neal, has said Roberts's attorneys
will "vigorously defend" Roberts against the charges.
Outside of court today, Neal said Roberts never exercised the
stock option that was backdated in 2000. Neal said, "The
story is much more complicated than the indictment would suggest."
The case is part of a nationwide U.S. Justice Department probe
of possible backdating by corporate executives.
In a related case, the SEC filed a civil fraud lawsuit against
Roberts in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
The civil suit alleges that the backdating increased the potential
value of the stock options for Roberts by nearly $200,000 and
for former chief executive George Semanuk by more than $700,000.
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