Companies & Industries

Glock Intrigue Revs Up Again With Lawsuits Against Gunmaker


When we last checked in on the world’s most influential handgun manufacturer, a former top American executive for Glock had just been released from prison after the reversal of his conviction for embezzling from the Austrian company. Just out of jail, Paul Jannuzzo told me he had hired lawyers to research a potential civil lawsuit for malicious prosecution against his former employer and its founder and owner, Gaston Glock.

Well, Jannuzzo—and other former Glock retainers who’ve had falling-outs with Gaston Glock—are beginning to mobilize. They’re seeking revenge (and, not incidentally, compensation) for what they claim was persecution and other wrongdoings by the maker of the iconic black large-capacity semiautomatic pistol. The preliminary steps consist of legal notices filed by Jannuzzo and, separately, three other Americans, signaling that the quartet intend to sue local police and prosecutors in suburban Cobb County, Ga., where Glock operates its large U.S. subsidiary. These notices accuse local authorities of doing the company’s bidding by going after former employees in a variety of criminal prosecutions.

Glock GmbH is not named as a defendant or potential defendant in any of these actions–and the company has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Indeed, it has portrayed itself as the victim of avaricious, dishonest employees.

Still, the suits against police and prosecutors are a clear precursor to future litigation against the company. Specifically, the men suing over Glock-related prosecutions will seek documents they hope to use in later actions against the company.

These disputes are byzantine and intriguing. (Heck, I wrote a whole book on this endlessly fascinating company.) In one way or another, the acrimony traces to a stranger-than-fiction assassination attempt on Gaston Glock in 1999 in a parking garage in Luxembourg.

In the wake of the abortive hit, Gaston Glock, who resides in southern Austria, hired a team of investigators to secure his fortune and go after the former financial adviser who hired the unsuccessful assassin. The financial adviser was convicted and is serving time in a Luxembourg prison. Glock’s privately funded investigation, however, led to recriminations between the investigators and the gun mogul, who accused the private eyes of trying to fleece him.

The ill will led to the Georgia state court prosecution of the lead investigator, a suburban Atlanta lawyer and former federal prosecutor named James Harper, and two subordinates. Charges against Harper and the other two were eventually dropped. They’ve notified the Cobb County district attorney’s office and the county that they intend to sue for malicious prosecution. R. Robin McDonald of the Daily Report in Atlanta has been bird-dogging that fracas.

Jannuzzo’s feud with his former boss Gaston Glock is, if anything, even more interesting. From my earlier article:

In the 1990s, Jannuzzo, a former prosecutor, debated gun-control advocates on national television, fought municipal lawsuits against the firearm industry, and, in anomalous moment, irritated the National Rifle Association by visiting the White House to pose for a Rose Garden photo with President Bill Clinton. Then, in 2003, Jannuzzo had a falling out with Gaston Glock and quit the company. Glock subsequently accused him of conspiring with a second senior executive to siphon off corporate funds. The other executive pled guilty and received probation.

Jannuzzo fought the charges, leading to his conviction [in 2012] in Cobb County….[In 2013, an] appellate court threw out the conviction, finding that the statute of limitations on Jannuzzo’s offenses had already expired when the Cobb County district attorney indicted him in 2009. The reversal didn’t address the merits of the accusations against the former Glock executive. Jannuzzo says he didn’t do anything illegal, and, in any event, his former boss, Gaston Glock, always approved of his actions. Josh Dorsey, a vice president with Glock Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary, and John Renzulli, a longtime outside lawyer for Glock, didn’t return phone messages seeking comment.

Jannuzzo attributes his bitter split with Gaston Glock to a rivalry for the affections of Jannuzzo’s wife, Monika [also a former company employee]….Monika describes a memorable conversation with Glock back in 2003, after she and Jannuzzo announced they were leaving the company. During a meeting at the airport in Atlanta, Glock told her, “We need to take our friendship to the next level,” Monika Jannuzzo says. Toward that end, she adds, the firearm magnate invited her to move to Austria. “If you don’t come to Vienna, Jannuzzo is finished,” Gaston Glock said at the time, according to Monika.  She stuck with Jannuzzo, and years later Glock made his accusations.

I told you it’s byzantine. And it’s obviously far from over.

Barrett_190
Barrett is an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. His new book, Law of the Jungle, which tells the story of the Chevron oil pollution case in Ecuador, will be published by Crown in September 2014.

We Almost Lost the Nasdaq
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus