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I read an article on PC World about the rumored layoffs by IBM – the rumors are reportedly bogus – and I began to reflect on the Douglas Mattern article entitled, CEO Pay is Outrageous and It’s Undemocratic.

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CEO Gregory Reyes was convicted Tuesday of defrauding investors in the first stock options backdating case to go to trial.

The guilty verdict on all counts is an important validation of the Justice Department's options backdating probe, which has so far led to criminal charges against at least 10 executives.

In May, Brocade and Mercury Interactive LLC, now owned by Hewlett-Packard Co., became the first two companies to pay fines to settle allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission of civil fraud accompanying backdating.

Brocade agreed to pay $7 million, and Mercury agreed to pay $28 million.

The goal is to boost the recipient's potential windfall.

It's only illegal if it's not properly accounted for.

Think of it as a chance to buy a stock at a rock-bottom price after you already know it's gone up.

It now appears that many companies offered executives this opportunity over the past decade - and broke laws in the process.

Reyes was seen as an important test of whether a jury considers it a crime deserving of jail time.

Reyes wiped his forehead with handkerchief and glared at the jury as the verdict was announced. His conviction could embolden prosecutors in their ongoing options investigation.

Chief executive officers, of course, run companies day to day.

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