Frying the Small Fry;
The Business Review (Albany) - by Robin K. Cooper
Greg Kerber, chief executive of the defunct Wurld Media Inc. in Saratoga Springs, was convicted Thursday of stealing up to $32,000 from the technology company.
A Saratoga County jury deliberated for two hours before finding the 46-year-old company co-founder guilty of third degree grand larceny. Kerber was charged with diverting Wurld Media income to a new company, and later using that money to buy pizza, repair his car and hire a lawyer to represent him in a previous criminal case.
The felony conviction comes less than a year after Kerber was sentenced to five years probation after he pleaded guilty to felony falsifying business records.
The early case related to the manner in which Wurld employees were paid after the Internet company ran into financial problems.
Wurld raised and spent more than $23 million from more than 500 shareholders from 1999 until 2007.
Kerber is one of two Wurld executives who have been convicted by a jury for crimes related to the once-promising business, known best for its music and video file-sharing technology.
Former Wurld accountant and board member Richard Saxton was sentenced in January to six months in jail and five years probation after a jury convicted him in November of falsifying business records, a felony, and criminal contempt and failure to pay benefits, misdemeanors.
That sentenced has been stayed while Saxton appeals the convictions.
Kerber’s lawyer, David Gruenberg of Troy, said he was not yet sure if his client will appeal the third-degree grand larceny conviction.
Thursday’s conviction came after a two-day trial in Saratoga County Court before Judge Jerry Scarano Jr. The conviction will not be considered a probation violation since the crime occurred before Kerber was sentenced in the earlier case, said Assistant District Attorney Richard Wendling.
“Obviously, I’m satisfied with the verdict,” he said.
During the trial, Wendling argued that Kerber shifted the money from Wurld to Yagibox Technologies, a company with no employees or products, so Kerber could spend it for personal use.
“It’s a shell corp. It’s a shell game. It’s moving money,” Wendling told the jury.
Wendling and Saratoga Springs Police Investigator Jack Barney have been handling cases involving the Wurld Media executives for nearly two years since the majority of the company’s assets were sold to Roo Group, a former New York City company. Roo has since merged with Kit Digital, which has offices in New York and Dubai.
Wurld, which technically still exists, has no employees or board members and still owes millions of dollars to creditors. The company sold its assets for approximately $4 million. That money was used to pay some of its creditors and some of the wages owed to former Wurld employees.
Kerber, who remains free on a $30,000 bond, will be required to surrender his passport while he awaits sentencing on July 9. The maximum sentence could range between 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
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