Dallas tycoons Sam and Charles Wyly reaped more than a half-billion dollars while breaking federal securities laws over a 13-year period, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a lawsuit Thursday.Of course, here in America, people are innocent until proven guilty, and besides, there's no guarantee that any of these charges will stick. (You may recall that the SEC went after another Dallas billionaire, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a few years ago, but Cuban came out on top when the charges were later dropped.)
The agency's 78-page suit, filed in New York's Southern District, seeks millions in fines from the famous brothers and the return of $31.7 million in profits that it said came from insider trading related to the sale of Sterling Software.
The Wylys' attorney said the government's claims are a "misapplication of the law."
But still, I have to say that yesterday's headline didn't surprise me. After all, the brothers have been under a microscope for the past five years regarding questionable tax shelters. (And while I had correctly remembered the Wylys as acquiring the Michaels Stores chain from founder Michael J. Dupey--who then started his own similar company, MJDesigns--I erroneously thought that the brothers were still on board when Michaels swallowed up its smaller competitor and ousted Dupey from his namesake company a second time. But Dupey's LinkedIn page--which is still up, even though he passed away a few months ago--reveals that Dupey originally had Michaels sold out from under him by his own father, and he reports that the Wylys treated him kindly.)
In the meantime, with the SEC shadow over the brothers, one of them--Charles, along with his wife, Dee--donated a lot of money to the new AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas that opened this past year, and they were rewarded by having the Wyly Theater named after them. So what will happen if the charges stick? Will the theater have to be renamed, in the manner of the former Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park) in Houston? Thus is the danger of naming things after living people, but we'll have to wait and see on this one.
Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my sister Kristen! She and her family are vacationing in Colorado at the moment, but hopefully I can catch her on the phone for a bit.