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The man blamed for orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud at

Rite Aid


in the late 1990s reportedly was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to securities and conspiracy charges.

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Martin Grass, who resigned as CEO of the drugstore chain in 1999, was also fined $500,000 in federal court in Pennsylvania after pleading guilty to defrauding the company's owners and conspiring to obstruct justice. The company's former chief financial officer, Franklyn Bergonzi, was sentenced to more than two years in prison Wednesday.

Rite Aid's stock was trading in the $50s before being forced to restate its earnings in 2000 to reflect the disappearance of about $1.6 billion in phony earnings. Grass and several deputies confessed to aggressive accounting that led to the overstatement, including falsifying records and lying to the board.

The stock last traded for $5.06, up 8 cents, or 1.6% from Wednesday's close.

Grass was sentenced in Harrisburg, Pa., by U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo.