Theft trial gets under way of 2 former Tony Packo's execs

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

The criminal trial for a pair charged with stealing from the Tony Packo's restaurant company opened in Lucas County Common Pleas Court today with attorneys for both sides outlining what they believe the evidence will state.

Tony Packo III, 39, the grandson of the company's founder, and Cathleen Dooley, 47, the company's controller, are each charged with three counts of aggravated theft for allegedly stealing about $170,000 from the company over a four-year period. If convicted, they each face up to three years in prison.

During opening statements, Assistant County Prosecutor John Weglian outlined the history of the company and detailed how the family business was structured. He told jurors that the company was run by the descendants of founder Tony Packo, including Mr. Packo, who owned one-sixth of the business, his father, Tony Packo, Jr., who owned one-third of the business, and his cousin, Robin Horvath, who owned half.

Mr. Weglian further explained that records are the key in business and told jurors that the records in this case would show jurors that Mr. Packo took money from the company in four different areas.

And to make that happen, Mr. Weglian alleged, Ms. Dooley helped.

Attorney Jerry Phillips, who represents Mr. Packo, described the business practices at the company as “loosey goosey,” noting that each of the owners would spend money on various personal items because that's just the way it was done.

Mr. Phillips said the case really comes down to one of those owners, Mr. Horvath, complaining because he didn't believe he was being treated fairly and so decided he wanted to run the entire company.

Ms. Dooley's attorney Rick Kerger noted that this was a business dispute and that his client was “the collateral damage.” Mr. Kerger outlined Ms. Dooley's past for jurors and how she worked to keep the company afloat even during difficult financial times.

The first witnesses are expected to testify today during what is an anticipated two-week trial.