Share This Page

Judge will determine Greensburg beer firm's ownership

The brother and sister who own a Westmoreland County beer distributor are at odds over the future of the $15 million company, so a judge will have to decide who runs the business.

Greensburg Beverage Inc. owners G. Lewis Iannuzzo, 81, and his sister, Rosemarie I. Cole, 76, were in court Tuesday for a hearing on Cole's request for an injunction that would reinstate her as company treasurer and replace her brother as president of the business in Hempfield Township.

Cole claims that Iannuzzo fired her, her daughter and her son-in-law last month in retaliation for Cole's refusal to authorize a $10.6 million buyout for her brother.

The company was founded by the siblings' parents in 1949. Cole has worked for Greensburg Beverage for 52 years, according to the lawsuit she filed last month.

Cole earned more than $300,000 last year as treasurer. Her daughter, Stacy Beehner, worked as Cole's assistant. Son-in-law James Warnick served as the company's sales manager.

"Mr. Iannuzzo acted solely for his selfish purpose in order to line his own pockets with cash," said Cole's attorney, David Borkovic. "It's a gross abuse of his discretion. All he was doing was acting for himself."

The business, which is the wholesale distributor for the MillerCoors beer company in Westmoreland and Fayette and parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, is mostly owned by Iannuzzo and Cole. Iannuzzo owns 69 percent of the company, while Cole owns 30 percent. Other family members and employees hold a 1 percent share.

In the lawsuit, Cole claims Iannuzzo has tried to sell the company in order to cash out his interest in the business he claims is worth $15 million.

After Iannuzzo rejected a compromise offer that would have paid him $3.5 million up front, with the remaining $7 million deferred over 25 years, Cole said her brother threatened her with a gun and had her forcibly removed from the business, the lawsuit alleges.

Iannuzzo's lawyer, Mary Jo Corsetti, declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

Lawyers yesterday argued whether Judge Anthony Marsili should grant an injunction that would restore Cole and her children to their positions and remove Iannuzzo from running the company.

Borkovic claimed that without Cole and her family, the company would suffer a loss of business and poor management decisions by Iannuzzo would eventually erode the value of the business.

Corsetti told Marsili that Greensburg Beverage has continued to function without Cole and her children.

"Everything is fine for now," Corsetti said.

Robert King, the company's attorney, said that Cole and her children retain their stock and company bylaws prohibit Iannuzzo from selling the business without approval from his sister.

As president of the company, Iannuzzo has authority to hire and fire employees, including his sister and other relatives, King said.

Marsili said he would soon rule on the injunction request. The lawsuit over permanent control of the company is pending,

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.