Jury convicts former Honda official of perjury in statement to judge

January 30, 1999|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A federal jury convicted a former Honda Motor Co. official yesterday of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a sworn statement to a judge presiding over a bribery suit against the company.

In the statement, Gregory T. Savoy, 31, of Cherry Hill, N.J., swore that no one had ever instructed him to discriminate against Honda dealerships that were suing company executives. The jurors, who during the trial listened to a secret tape recording of Savoy, found that he lied.

"Mr. Savoy was not true to the oath that he took," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale P. Kelberman said in closing arguments in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. "This doesn't come down to `he-said, she-said.' It's all right on tape, clear and unambiguous."

Perjury and obstruction of justice are felonies, each carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 27.

Savoy's declaration was made in July 1997 during litigation against the executives by dealers who claimed their bosses were conspiring to ship fewer cars to them because they refused to pay kickbacks.

The company later agreed to pay more than $320 million to settle the class-action lawsuit. At the time Savoy submitted his statement, the suit was pending and his comments could have played a role in the outcome. Six weeks earlier, without his knowledge, he had been tape-recorded in a diner in Tenafly, N.J., where he was having lunch with Jeffrey Dorf, a dealer in his sales territory.

Savoy made comments that indicated Honda executives were retaliating by withholding cars.

"We're not supposed to help out the ones who are suing us," Savoy said on the tape.

Pub Date: 1/30/99

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