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223 26 The Final Stab in the Back When I thought that nothing could get worse and was contemplating the next step in my life, I was informed that the board of directors had retained the services of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro law firm. The purpose of retaining the firm at a cost of $50,000 was to have the attorneys review all my financial, political, and business dealings for any illegal activities. If that were not enough, a rumor somehow leaked out to the industry that part of the investigation was to confirm alleged theft of corporate funds. I had no income, no job, and I was in fact seeking work while being investigated for allegedly embezzling money from the corporation. Three months later, the attorneys responsible for the investigation appeared before the board with their report and with infor­ mation provided by Joseph Pesce, who was still on the board at the time. He reported to me a summary of the investigation: Gentlemen, as per your request, we have completed a comprehensive review of all of Mr. Stefanelli’s corporate and personal activities for the previous five years that he served in the capacity as director and president of the several corporations he has served in. As result, we cannot find any evidence of inappropriate, unethical, or illegal activities, and we would respectfully suggest you not pursue this matter any further, for if you do, you may open the company to unnecessary litigation that could result in significant financial expense if Mr. Stefanelli opted to pursue action against the company for a defamation of character or some similar action. . .and as you are aware, he has retained a reputable and prominent attorney to represent his interests. All this occurred within a period of three weeks. I had no idea how this investigation was to turn out, even though I knew that I did not do anything illegal. Regardless of the results, I already had a top-line attorney (Steven Breyer), and I was sure that Pills­ bury, Madison, & Sutro knew this. 224 The Final Stab in the Back It should be obvious why I became angry and vindictive against the people who created this nightmare. I would like you to understand why I did what I felt I needed to do. While all this was going on, Michael Sangiacomo, my chief financial officer—the man who made substantially more money than the “men on the truck” (and more than I did as president, though he deserved it)—contacted me at home. He expressed concern that I had been forced to resign and was convinced that he was next. He offered a couple of projects that he thought we could invest in together and seek work outside of the company. The problem for me was that I did not have any excessive funds to invest. I appreciated that Michael thought enough of me to want to partner with me in some venture, but I couldn’t participate. Fortunately, the people who had taken charge of the company realized that running it was not as easy as they had assumed . The termination of Michael Sangiacomo was put on hold. Why do I say fortunately? Because Michael was the only per­ son there who had the experience, knowledge, commonsense, and business logic (or in simpler terms, brains) to help the company. The new management could not handle it. Instead of being termi­ nated, Michael Sangiacomo eventually became the chief adviser to the new president, Livio Cristinelli. ...


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MARC Record
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