National Lampoon Inc.’s former chief executive pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Wednesday in connection with a scheme to manipulate the entertainment company’s stock.

Daniel Laikin, 47, admitted he was part of a plot to artificially inflate the stock of the West Hollywood-based company, which owns the rights to the “Animal House” and “Vacation” comedy films.

Prosecutors charged Laikin with paying kickbacks to individuals who bought large amounts of National Lampoon stock in an effort to drive up its price. Laikin was arrested and charged in December, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has since de-listed the company’s stock.

Laikin’s three co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy. Laikin had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but changed his plea on Wednesday. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a count of securities fraud filed against him.

He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Jan. 13, 2010.

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