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Thursday, March 20, 2008

CANDLEMASS Guitarist Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

CANDLEMASS guitarist Mats "Mappe" Björkman has been sentenced to two years in a Swedish prison for grand theft, reports Realtid.se.

He was convicted of stealing CDs with a retail value of SEK 3 million (approximately $490,000).

According to prosecutor Mats Jansson, Björkman and and his accomplice Stefan Håkansson skimmed CDs from Entertainment Network Scandinavia AB (ENS), where they both worked at the warehouse. ENS handles product distribution to retail outlets and wholesalers throughout Sweden for the four major labels.

Over a period of several years, Björkman and Håkansson shipped the stolen merchandise to two Stockholm retail outlets who were also allegedly involved in the scheme.

In November 2005, a music company contacted ENS regarding a discrepancy in Björkman's reported sales. ENS investigated the matter and discovered that someone had manipulated the company computer on 301 occasions.

By checking Mats' employee/entry card, ENS determined that the musician's log-in information had been used to access the company's computer system in 279 of these instances.

Mats Björkman denies the allegations and claims that someone else must have used his entry card. But his accomplice Stefan Håkansson has admitted his role in the theft and has implicated his colleague.

The scheme was uncovered after a tip was received that the record stores in Stockholm were selling CDs that were shipped from the Borås-based warehouse for a much lower price than those sold by their competitors.

The information about the weight on orders had been manipulated to conceal how much merchandise had been delivered. A package that according to the computer system contained 8 CDs in reality turned out to include more than 100 CDs plus a few box sets and DVDs.

According to the prosecutor, Björkman was the one that was in contact with the retailers and that received the money for the transactions.

The agreement between Mats and his accomplice was that they were to split the profits — which were estimated to be SEK 1.3 million (approximately $213,000) — equally.

Mats stated in court that he doesn't undertand why Stefan would lie about him being involved in the theft scheme but he thinks it might be because Håkansson was trying to protect other people who might have been responsible for stealing the merchandise.

Before he went to court, Mats told the local paper Borås Tidning, "I'm innocent, no question about it."

During the court proceedings, he continued to deny his involvement in the theft while the other man confessed.

Based on the evidence, the court concluded that Håkansson had no reason to lie about Björkman's role in the scheme and determined that prison was the appropriate punishment for both men.

Björkman's accomplice received a sentence of one year and nine months.

(The above BLABBERMOUTH.NET article was based on Swedish-language reports on Realtid.se and BT.se)

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