Ex-Rite Aid Exec Pleads Guilty, Other Execs to be Arraigned Today

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Timothy J. Noonan, the former Rite Aid Corp. executive who helped federal prosecutors build a securities-fraud case against his colleagues, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of withholding information from the company's internal investigators, The Associated Press reports.

Today three former Rite Aid senior executives and one current executive are expected to plead innocent to a raft of criminal charges stemming from accounting irregularities. In July 2000, Rite Aid announced that it had increased its losses for the late 1990s by $1.6 billion.

U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane released Noonan on his own recognizance. The 60-year-old Mechanicsburg resident, who became the company's president and chief operating officer during his 30-year career at Rite Aid, faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No sentencing date was set.

Under the plea agreement Noonan signed in November, prosecutors promised to recommend that he be placed on probation if he continues to cooperate.

Martin L. Grass, 47, of Virginia Beach, Va., Rite Aid's former chairman and CEO; Franklin Brown, 74, of Harrisburg, the former chief counsel and vice chairman; and Franklyn Bergonzi, 57, of Hummelstown, a former executive vice president and chief financial officer, are to be arraigned today on the most serious charges. They include conspiracy to defraud, fraud in connection with the purchase or sale of securities, and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Eric S. Sorkin, 53, of Mechanicsburg, Rite Aid's executive vice president for pharmacy services, was suspended last month after he was indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to a grand jury.
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