ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia appeals court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a former executive for Glock Inc. who was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing a pistol and conspiring to steal millions of dollars from the gun manufacturer.
The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed Paul Jannuzzo's March 2012 convictions on theft and racketeering charges. The state failed to indict Jannuzzo within the statute of limitations, Presiding Judge Gary Blaylock Andrews wrote in the opinion.
Jannuzzo has long argued that the state failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that prosecutors waited too long to prosecute him.
"We are certainly heartened and pleased that the Georgia Court of Appeals reviewed the decisions and reversed the conviction," said Jannuzzo's lawyer, John Da Grosa Smith.
Jannuzzo has been in jail since before his conviction, and his lawyers were working Tuesday to get him released, Smith said.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said his office has reviewed the case and has decided not to ask the court to reconsider its decision.
"It's not reparable," he said. "Ethically, we need to do the right thing and we need to do it immediately."
Jannuzzo's case was prosecuted under Reynolds' predecessor, former District Attorney Pat Head.
Prosecutors had said Jannuzzo, who was once Glock's general counsel, worked with former company vice president Peter Manown to steal more than $5 million using fake bank accounts, fabricated loan documents and forged signatures of company founder Gaston Glock.
Manown told Glock a decade ago that he and Jannuzzo took the money. Prosecutors didn't charge either man with wrongdoing until Glock in 2007 turned over the details of its internal investigation to authorities in Cobb County, where the Austrian company's U.S. headquarters is located. Manown soon pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and was sentenced to 10 years. He was the state's star witness at Jannuzzo's trial.
The Court of Appeals opinion notes that the statute of limitations for the felony theft by conversion charge is four years, while the limit for the racketeering charge is five years. The state indicted Jannuzzo in June 2009, meaning it would have to prove that Glock's first knowledge of the alleged crime against it was no earlier than June 2005 for the theft charge and June 2004 for the racketeering charge.
The Court of Appeals found that Glock knew about both alleged offenses by February or March of 2003.