COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio marketing guru is trying for a comeback and maintaining his innocence after spending several years in prison for illegally tipping off friends and family to a merger that netted them nearly $900,000 through stock trades.
Former Ohio State University professor Roger Blackwell was convicted in 2005 for insider trading involving the Kellogg Co.'s purchase of Worthington Foods Inc., where Blackwell was a board member. Battle Creek-Mich.-based Kellogg acquired the vegetarian food brand in 1999 for $307 million.
Blackwell, a nationally known marketing expert who had written several business books before he was convicted, is scheduled to give a business speech Wednesday in Columbus, his first since his sentence ended in April. He's now under three years of supervision.
Blackwell, 70, told The Columbus Dispatch for a Tuesday story that the public should be "incensed" about his conviction.
"I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't do anything illegal. I have maintained my innocence from the very beginning," he said. "There was no crime. I didn't make a penny, but I spent millions of dollars in my defense. It didn't wipe me out, but it did put a big dent in my retirement."
Blackwell resigned from Ohio State in 2005, but a campus hotel and conference center that he endowed still bears his name. He told the Dispatch he intends to fulfill a $7 million pledge to keep his name on the building at the Fisher College of Business.
"It was the American system of injustice that dishonored the university — and not me," he said.
Blackwell in 2005 had asked the federal judge who sentenced him to allow him to serve the community through volunteer projects involving the treatment and prevention of diabetes. He told the judge in a letter that he had succumbed to the temptations of fame and wealth.
"That now has all been taken away and I see clearly that His purpose in allowing me to make the breakthroughs I became known for can now be channeled to helping achieve similar breakthroughs in the treatment of diabetes and other health problems," he wrote.
Blackwell said he is now writing three books — one about his faith, one about prison life and one about the U.S. drug problem. He said he also is working with a prison ministry and considering offers from companies for his marketing and consumer behavior knowledge.
But if Blackwell is innocent, his plans to make a comeback are ill-advised, said marketing and crisis management expert Joe Marconi.
"If he believes he's been wronged by society and the justice system, then he has a project to work on — to clear his name," Marconi told The Dispatch. "He should keep his mouth shut, keep out of the public eye and find a way to exonerate himself."