ATLANTA (AP) — A former lawyer for gun manufacturer Glock says in a federal lawsuit filed this week that a vindictive campaign by the company led to unfounded criminal charges against him that caused his wrongful imprisonment.
Glock Inc., the Georgia-based subsidiary of the Austrian gun company, used its wealth, power and influence to get local prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against people the company wanted to see locked up, former Glock general counsel Paul Jannuzzo said in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Atlanta.
The suit names Glock Inc. and Consultinvest Inc., as well as their private attorneys, Robert Core and John Renzulli, who the suit says were directed by Glock founder Gaston Glock Sr.
An attorney for Core said in an email Friday he's confident his client will prevail. Lawyers who represent Glock Inc., Consultinvest and Renzulli in another matter didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Jannuzzo and Gaston Glock had a falling out in February 2003 that stemmed, at least in part, from Glock's interest in Jannuzzo's wife, who also worked for the company, the lawsuit says. Jannuzzo went to Glock's home to inform him of his resignation and, at the same time, told Glock there was "substantial evidence of illegal activities" within Glock's companies, the lawsuit says.
Glock and his associates engaged in "a methodical, deliberate pattern and practice of conducting sham transactions over a period of decades," Jannuzzo alleges.
"The history of corporate acts reflecting the purported ownership of Glock, Inc. over time is a study in disrespect for corporate formalities and the corporate form," the lawsuit says. "It includes backdated documents, bogus agreements, phantom capital increases and gratuitous share transfers."
A team of investigators hired by Glock to deal with the consequences of a falling out between Glock and a close associate realized that Glock himself was implicated in illegal doings and the team's leader, James R. Harper III, notified Glock in March 2003 that he intended to stop pursuing the investigation, the lawsuit says.
Glock then went after Jannuzzo, Harper and Harper's team, seeking to discredit them, the lawsuit says. When a Glock executive admitted to stealing money from Glock companies, Glock and his associates came up with a plan to implicate them as well, the lawsuit says.
Glock and his associates tried unsuccessfully to get federal prosecutors to pursue charges against Jannuzzo. Then they turned to local authorities, filing a criminal complaint in Smyrna, where Glock Inc. is headquartered.
An assistant district attorney there agreed to prosecute the case, and Core and Renzulli essentially led the investigation and managed the case, the lawsuit says. The Cobb County prosecutors, who are no longer with the office and who the lawsuit says are co-conspirators, are not named as defendants because of immunity rules that make them difficult to sue, Jannuzzo's lawyer John Da Grosa Smith said Friday.
Core and Renzulli were thus able to use the state's full power through the prosecutors and state investigators but were "(u)nrestrained by any of the duties and obligations that traditionally constrain police officers and prosecuting officials," the lawsuit says.
"These Defendants tampered with witnesses and evidence, withheld exculpatory evidence, and advocated positions that were clearly and directly contrary to established law," the lawsuit says.
A 2009 indictment against Jannuzzo in Cobb County accused him of stealing a custom pistol and conspiring to steal millions of dollars from the gun manufacturer. Jannuzzo was convicted and sentenced to serve seven years in prison followed by 13 years on probation.
The Georgia Court of Appeals in July 2013 overturned his conviction, saying the state failed to indict Jannuzzo within the statute of limitations, and he was released from prison after serving more than 3 ½ years.
By causing criminal charges to be brought against him and then effectively running prosecutors' case, Core and Renzulli and the companies they represented caused harm to Jannuzzo's reputation and professional livelihood that caused him to suffer personal and financial losses, the lawsuit says.