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Published: Monday, 10/1/2012

Packo III, Dooley criminal trial returns to court

Skutch Company Ltd. reviewed allegations while handling Tony Packo's operations

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
John Weglian, assistant county prosecutor, left, and, on the witness stand, Christopher F. Parker, Esq., attorney for The Skutch Company, Ltd., reviewing documents. The Skutch Company was the court-appointed receiver for the Tony Packo's, Inc. John Weglian, assistant county prosecutor, left, and, on the witness stand, Christopher F. Parker, Esq., attorney for The Skutch Company, Ltd., reviewing documents. The Skutch Company was the court-appointed receiver for the Tony Packo's, Inc.
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The criminal trial for Tony Packo III and Cathleen Dooley – both charged with stealing from the iconic Tony Packo’s restaurant company – continued Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court with testimony from the receiver who ran the company while it was in the midst of civil litigation.

Steve Skutch from the Skutch Company, Ltd. testified that he was appointed to take over the operations of the Tony Packo’s companies in August, 2010. He said his appointment for the most part ended when the company was purchased by TP Foods LLC in February.

Mr. Skutch testified that one of the company’s former owners, Robin Horvath, had come to him while he was receiver with allegations of wrong-doing by other family members. When questioned by the defense, he said he reviewed the allegations but did not view anything that constituted a crime. Mr. Skutch did acknowledge that he did not conduct an audit or forensic review of the records as part of his review.

Mr. Packo, 39, the grandson of the company’s founder, and Ms. Dooley, 47, the company’s controller each are charged with three counts of aggravated theft for allegedly stealing about $170,000 from the company over a four-period.

Mr. Skutch was one of three witnesses to testify during the first part of the second day to testimony. Mr. Packo’s father, Tony Packo, Jr., testified Friday.

The allegations surround money allegedly stolen by Mr. Packo, including the taking of cash from parking proceeds at the company’s ballpark location and payment advancements. Ms. Dooley is accused of helping to facilitate the alleged thefts.

Since the sale of the company earlier this year, both Mr. Packo and Ms. Dooley were hired by new owner, Bob Bennett, to continue working for the company. Mr. Horvath, who was not rehired, has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company, its new owners, and the receiver.

Also testifying Monday were attorneys Chris Parker of Goranson, Parker & Bella, who served as counsel for the receiver, and Thomas Killam of Marshall & Melhorn, who was hired in 2002 during an earlier conflict within the Packo’s corporation.

Mr. Killam testified that the earlier dispute resulted in a resolution between the parties and the creation of a Board of Managers that included Mr. Horvath, Mr. Packo, Jr., and a neutral third-party, Jack Simonetti. Also as part of that resolution, Mr. Horvath and his mother – the daughter of the founder who has since died – each received money from the corporation.

He further testified that like many small, family-owned business, the company was run informally and that often in those cases the owners will pay for personal expenses with company funds. He noted that although it is somewhat common, those funds should be paid back.

Additional witnesses are expected to testify when the trial resumes with Judge Frederick McDonald presiding.



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