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Argentines Sentenced in Lycra Extortion Scheme

March 8, 1990

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ An Argentine convicted of trying to extort $10 million from the Du Pont Co. in exchange for stolen documents detailing the company’s production of Lycra was sentenced Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Two co-defendants received prison terms in U.S. District Court in a scheme involving sensitive documents taken from Du Pont’s Lycra manufacturing plant in Mercedes, Argentina.

Lycra is Du Pont’s trade name for spandex, an elastic fiber used in clothing such as swimsuits and leotards. The Wilmington-based chemicals manufacturer controls more than 50 percent of the world spandex market, with more than $600 million in sales in 1988.

Bruno Skerianz, 52, the alleged mastermind of the extortion plot, also was placed on three years’ probation by U.S. District Judge Joseph Longobardi. Co- defendants Raul Armando Giordano, 37, and Antonio Ruben Inigo, 40, received 3 1/2 -year prison sentences and three years’ probation.

Attorneys for the defendants said they plan to appeal.

The three were convicted in December of one count each of conspiracy to extort and attempted extortion. Each count carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum five years’ probation.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Du Pont had to agree to pay for the documents or Skerianz would have sold them to a competitor.

Du Pont also made an agreement with the three men that they would not work in spandex production for five years and that Du Pont would sell spandex yarn to a company chosen by Skerianz during the period, the government said.

Defense lawyers maintained that Skerianz had not attempted extortion because he and the others had planned to manufacture spandex for Radicci, an Italian textile manufacturer.

Skerianz had worked for Du Pont more than 20 years ago. The others resigned in the fall of 1988 from the Mercedes plant.

The three defendants and Lorenzo de Bianchini were arrested in February 1989 in Geneva, Switzerland, after an aborted attempt to return the documents for $10 million. Petrosino was arrested at the beginning of last summer.

Longobardi ordered the three defendants to pay $100 to a victims’ compensation fund. He said he did not impose a fine or order restitution to Du Pont because of the defendants’ bleak financial situations.

The men were sentenced to concurrent terms on each count. A fourth defendant, Jose Petrosino, is fighting extradition from Italy. Charges against Maria I. Lorenzo de Bianchini, who testified for the prosecution, were dropped.

Du Pont spokesman R. John Malloy said the company was pleased with the sentences, which he said would be ″a strong deterrent for those who might consider doing similar things.″