Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don Marsh Hit With Embarrassing Lawsuit By Former Family Business

It looks like former Marsh Supermarket CEO may have had trouble changing his ways after the company went from being a privately-held family business to a publicly-traded company. The IBJ's Cory Schouten reports on a lawsuit Marsh Supermarket's Inc. has brought against its former CEO, Don Marsh:

Marsh Supermarkets Inc. has sued its former CEO, Don E. Marsh, alleging he treated the company like “a personal checkbook” to bankroll extravagant trips, maintain vacation homes and hide personal relationships with female employees.

The company claims Marsh shredded documents before he left the company in 2006 to hide his “inappropriate activities” — including personal use of petty cash and a so-called executive voucher system outside the company’s normal accounting system. Those payments, along with Don Marsh’s frequent use of a company plane for personal trips, have drawn the attention of the IRS.

The locally based grocery chain plans to ask the court for millions in damages from Don Marsh, the son of company founder Ermal Marsh. It also is seeking repayment of the more than $1 million per year in “salary continuation benefits,” lifetime medical insurance and other perks it has been paying to its former CEO.

Marsh, who left the formerly publicly traded company in 2006 after Florida-based Sun Capital Partners took the firm private, did not return a phone message left by IBJ today at his Carmel home.However, in a statement e-mailed by his attorney, Marsh denied the allegations.

"I am extremely proud of the home-grown company that I worked so hard to build and am especially thankful for the talented employees I enjoyed working with everyday,” Marsh said in the statement. “It is very disappointing, now more than two years after my retirement, the new owner of Marsh Supermarkets would resort to such extreme misrepresentations."

The allegations are false and it is clear the out-of-state, venture capitalist group ownership is looking for someone to blame for their own poor business practices which have severely impacted the company I once proudly led."

I still haven't forgotten all of the stories about the wild bachelor party Marsh threw for his son in the French Room of the Columbia Club back in the 1990s. According to one person present, female entertainers made good use of the grocer's produce to entertain guests. The men's bathroom was reportedly littered with used condoms before the night was over--all from self-copulation, of course. I was a member of the club at the time. Members were talking about it for weeks after that. Word at the time was that Marsh was served with a hefty cleaning bill by the club afterwards.

If you want to read the complaint against Marsh, WIBC has posted a PDF file of it here.

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