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   Fri, February 11, 2005

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Ex-WWE exec convicted in kickback scheme
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling

One of World Wrestling Entertainment's former executives has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

James Bell, former senior vice president of merchandising and licensing for WWE, entered his guilty plea yesterday in U.S. District Court. He was standing trial over accusations that he had accepted kickbacks over product licenses.

According to the prosecution, Bell had arranged for SS & Associates Inc. to be commissioned on agreements that were not entitled to the company, owned by Stanley Shenker. Among the kickbacks were rights that were awarded to Jakks Pacific Inc. and its subsidiaries. (Jakks, based in California, has denied the allegations.)

Neither Bell, who was released on $50,000 bond, or his lawyer made any comments after the hearing. Bell, whose sentencing hearing will take place April 29th, now faces a penalty up to five years in prison and a fine of $1.9 million in restitution to WWE.

-- with files from Canoe wire services

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000. This article cannot be reproduced without the consent of Sun Media.