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Published: Saturday, 9/29/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Packo, Jr: Family often used company funds

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left: defendants Tony Packo III and Cathleen Dooley, with attorneys Mark Jacobs and Rick Kerger, during the Packo criminal trial Friday. From left: defendants Tony Packo III and Cathleen Dooley, with attorneys Mark Jacobs and Rick Kerger, during the Packo criminal trial Friday.
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A former owner of the famed Tony Packo’s restaurant company — the son of the company’s founder — was called Friday as a witness in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in the criminal trial for a pair charged with stealing from the business.

Tony Packo, Jr., testified for about 3½ hours during the first day of the theft trial for his son, Tony Packo III, 39, and Cathleen Dooley, 47, the company’s controller. Each is charged with three counts of aggravated theft for allegedly stealing about $170,000 from the company over a four-year period.

Although called as a witness for the state, Mr. Packo, Jr., reluctantly testified about the transactions that occurred at the business where he was president of one of its companies and a part-owner.

He acknowledged that several checks were issued to both Mr. Packo III and Ms. Dooley for thousands of dollars for which no accompanying documentation or receipts exist. However, he testified that the unauthorized spending that took place by the company’s owners was the way the business was run.

“Over the past decades, there were numerous amounts of unauthorized spending that took place. … All the spending that took place was part of the way the family operated the business,” said Mr. Packo, Jr., who is no longer a part-owner after the business was sold per court order.

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

Mr. Weglian further explained that records are vital in business and told jurors that the records in this case would show jurors that there were four areas of theft that occurred.

“What we are talking about here is someone who thinks he should get what his cousin gets, even though he owns one-sixth of the company,” Mr. Weglian said of the younger Mr. Packo. “ … To get that, he conspired with the bookkeeper.”

Attorney Jerry Phillips, who represents Mr. Packo, agreed with the history given about the Packo company, but disputed the descriptions of the financial aspects. He described the business practices at the company as “loosey goosey,” where personal expenses were sometimes paid for with company funds, because “that’s the nature of a family business.”

Mr. Phillips said it was after Mr. Horvath returned from several months of sick leave that he began making complaints and working to gain total control of the company.

“[Robin Horvath’s] ultimate purpose was to take 100 percent of the business and not pay fair market value,” Mr. Phillips told jurors. “His means of taking it was to present evidence to the prosecutor that Ms. Dooley and Mr. Packo committed a theft offense.”

Attorney Rick Kerger added that the case was about “human emotions, jealousy … and collateral damage.”

Mr. Horvath is expected to testify Monday.

Also testifying Friday was Michael Bomar, who installed a $1,280 glass shower door in Mr. Packo III’s Sylvania Township home for which he was paid by credit card. Joseph Bublick, a contractor, also testified that he performed more than $2,000 worth of work on the home of Mr. Packo III’s mother and received a check from the company as payment.

Mr. Packo, Jr., testified that the recent conflict that resulted in the company being sold to an outside party was not the first time the family had disputes. A 2002 dispute resulted in civil mediation and an agreement between the family members. Ms. Dooley was hired the following year, in 2003.

More recently, the family returned to court and in February, businessman Bob Bennett, of TP Foods LLC, bought the company. He has since hired Mr. Packo, Jr., and Mr. Packo III.

A jury of seven men and five women was selected to hear the case over which Judge Frederick McDonald presides.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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