Jury selection starts in trial of 2 ex-Tony Packo's execs

Tony Packo III, left, and Cathleen Dooley.
Tony Packo III, left, and Cathleen Dooley.

The criminal trial for the grandson of famed hot dog restaurateur Tony Packo began today in Lucas County Common Pleas Court with the selection of a jury.

Tony Packo III and Cathleen Dooley are each charged with three counts of aggravated theft for allegedly stealing about $170,000 over a four-year period. Mr. Packo, 39, the grandson of the restaurant’s founder, and Ms. Dooley, 47, the company’s controller, were indicted Dec. 14 by a county grand jury after a lengthy inquiry by an investigator in the prosecutor’s office.

The jury pool consisted of 113 people who will be questioned by attorneys for both defendants and the state. Among the questions to be asked include the availability of jurors throughout the expected two-week trial and whether they had been exposed to extensive pretrial publicity.

Judge Frederick McDonald is presiding over the case.

Authorities said the accusations against the pair were brought to the prosecutor’s office by the attorney of former co-owner Robin Horvath, who is a cousin of Mr. Packo and at the time owned half the business. Mr. Horvath is expected to testify in the criminal case.

In February, the company was sold to businessman Bob Bennett of TP Foods LLC, after being placed into receivership for more than a year. Mr. Horvath since has sued the company, its new owners, and members of his family, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Whistleblower Act.

That complaint, as well as similar lawsuits filed by three other former Packo’s employees, remains pending before Judge Gene Zmuda.