Fraud Trial Of Former Le-Nature's Executive Begins

Prosecutors claim former president?Robert?Lynn was a conspirator in a complex scheme of bank, wire and mail fraud.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The trial of a former executive of bankrupt beverage maker Le-Nature's Inc. has begun in U.S. District Court.

Robert B. Lynn, 67, the former president of the bankrupt company, is the only one charged in the case who hasn't plead guilty. His trial began Wednesday.

Prosecutors claim Lynn was a conspirator in a complex scheme, but the defense says he was a dupe betrayed by Chief Executive Gregory Podlucky.

Lynn is charged with bank, wire and mail fraud as well as conspiracy. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

In opening statements this morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar told jurors that Lynn was Podlucky's trusted right-hand man and, as head of sales and revenues, knew intimately the details of the company's operation, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

"Mr. Lynn knew every bottle that went into and out of every warehouse," Cessar said.

But Thomas Farrell, Lynn's attorney, said that while Podlucky stole $37 million from the company to finance a lavish lifestyle, Lynn never stole anything, had no role in falsifying records and was fooled along with investors, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.