Roger Blackwell faces sentencing Thursday

For years, Roger Blackwell circulated in the corporate and academic major leagues. The former Ohio State University professor has authored or co-authored 30 books on marketing brands and consumer behaviour. OSU named a campus hotel the Blackwell Inn after he gave a multi-million dollar gift to the university. At the gift shop in the lobby of the hotel, three of Blackwell’s best known titles remain on sale.

But last June, federal prosecutors won convictions against Roger Blackwell on 19 felony counts ranging from insider trading to conspiracy for tipping off family and friends about a pending take-over of Worthington Foods. Blackwell was a member of the board at Worthington at the time. Now he awaits sentencing.

Blackwell faces up to ten years behind bars and a million dollar fine. But, court officials recommend a minimum of six and a-half years.

More than three dozen former business and academic associates have written Judge James Graham asking leniency for Blackwell. Among those who sent letters to the court: Limited Founder Les Wexner. He characterizes Blackwell as a “treasured asset” of Central Ohio, Vanderbilt University Chancellor and former Ohio State Univeristy President E. Gordon Gee describes Blackwell as “an enormous influence for good on the lives of many.”

Fisher College of Business Dean, Joseph Alutto, also penned a letter to the court on Blackwell’s behalf: “The number of students who started new businesses or who sought out career advice from Roger Blackwell are just too many to even enumerate. And I hear that from alums not just at the Fisher College, but alums of Ohio State quite literally wherever I go in the world.”

Blackwell’s defense team says their client’s crimes are “an isolated aberration in a life of extraordinary service.” But, US attorney Douglas Squires says prosecutors want a sentence that reflects the severity of Blackwell’s crimes.

“Mr. Blackwell was a well-educated person who engaged in insider trading and covered up his crimes and later lied at trial. We consider those serious and we feel the court should consider them in sentencing,” Squire said.

Blackwell’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday before federal judge James Graham.

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