Ohio judge to rule on sale of 'MASH' hot dog diner

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 5:46 PM
Ohio judge to rule on sale of 'MASH' hot dog diner

The fate of a hot dog eatery made famous on TV's "M.A.S.H." rests with a judge who heard arguments Thursday about its potential sale, a day after the founder's grandson was charged with stealing from the family business.

A court-appointed third party appointed to oversee Tony Packo's Inc. urged the judge to act quickly, saying that the business was in jeopardy.

A private restaurant group won the bidding for the restaurant chain, but the deal still needs final approval.

The founder's grandson, who currently is executive vice president of Tony Packo's, is poised to play a major role in the new ownership company if the judge approves the sale.

But a grand jury Wednesday indicted Tony Packo III on aggravated theft charges. Prosecutors say he and another company employee stole about $170,000. His lawyer has said he hasn't seen any details about what led to the charges that carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

An attorney representing the ownership group said the indictment against Packo III shouldn't be a reason to hold up the sale and that it hasn't changed his expected role to help manage the chain's operations. "As we stand here now, he will be an employee," said attorney David Coyle.

The charges come on top of a yearlong family battle over control of the restaurant chain whose hot dog sauce and pickles are sold in stores across the nation. Descendants of the restaurant's namesake this summer began accusing each other of financial misdeeds and mismanagement and made their own bids to buy the company.

Actor Jamie Farr, a Toledo native, put Packo's on the map in "M.A.S.H." when he portrayed a homesick U.S. soldier in the Korean War who longed for the hot dogs.

"If you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo's got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs," Farr's character, Cpl. Max Klinger, said on an episode in 1976.