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Former personal assistant says Irish billionaire, former Heinz exec, owes her stocks, money

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Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
 

The former personal assistant of an Irish billionaire claims he owes her hundreds of thousands of shares of stock in H.J. Heinz Co. and another business, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday in Pittsburgh federal court.

Sabina Vidunas, age and address unknown, says Anthony J.F. O'Reilly, who was then-chairman and CEO of Heinz, hired her in 1995 as a personal nurse. He subsequently added other duties during the 16 years she worked for him, the lawsuit states.

Although Vidunas did not have a formal salary agreement until 2000, O'Reilly induced her to keep working by agreeing to set aside shares of stock for her retirement. Ultimately, he promised her 343,000 shares of Heinz stock and 2.5 million shares in Providence Resources PLC-ESM, a Dublin-based oil and gas company, the lawsuit states.

O'Reilly agreed to start paying her $200,000 annually in 2000, but made good on the promise for only one year, with her pay dwindling to $150,000 for the next six years, $100,000 in 2008 and $47,500 in 2009, the lawsuit states.

O'Reilly, who promised to buy her a house in the Bahamas, did not pay her anything in 2010 and effectively fired her in 2011, the lawsuit states. Since then, he has refused to hand over the shares he promised, the lawsuit claims.

Vidunas and her lawyers, Joel Sansone and Melvin Vatz, could not be reached for comment.

Emails sent to O'Reilly's home at Castlemartin Stud Farm, Kilcullen County, Kildare, Ireland, and to his charitable organization, the O'Reilly Foundation, were not answered.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bbowling@tribweb.com.

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