Industry News

Trial begins for former Homestore exec

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Federal prosecutors, during opening statements Thursday in a criminal trial against former Homestore CEO Stuart H. Wolff, charged that Wolff was driven by "his ego and his greed" to artificially inflate the company's revenue numbers and deceive investors. Wolff's lawyers, meanwhile, portrayed him as a "smart guy from Oklahoma," an electrical engineer with great ideas about the Internet but "not one lick of managerial experience" before his role at the company. Wolff, according to his legal defense team, "left the accounting to the accountants." The jury will have to sort out whether Wolff is guilty of participating in a criminal conspiracy with other Homestore executives to commit securities fraud, filing false financial reports, falsifying the company's financial records and misleading accountants about the company's finances and engaging in illegal insider trading. Financial accounting problems led the company to restate its earnings and caused its stock to drop to pennie...