Maine Lobstering Union suing wholesalers, claiming they stole nearly USD 2 million
The Maine Lobstering Union, the owner of wholesaler Trenton, Maine, U.S.A.-based wholesaler Lobster 207, has sued members of a family it said defrauded them of nearly USD 2 million (EUR 1.8 million).
The union, which is a division of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, sued husband and wife Anthony D. Pettegrow and Josette G. Pettegrow, and their son, Warren Pettegrow, who served as the CEO of Lobster 207 until he was fired in April 2019, after “an internal investigation prompted by red flags reported by the company’s auditing team,” according to the union, as reported by the Ellsworth American. Interviewed by the newspaper, Pettegrow denied wrongdoing.
Warren Pettegrow become Lobster 207’s CEO as part of an agreement made between the company and the Pettegrew family involving the acquisition of the Pettegrow’s business, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. According to the suit, the agreement stipulated that the Pettegrows leave the wholesale business, but instead of doing so, they “embarked on a systematic scheme and pattern of racketeering activity designed to enrich themselves at Lobster 207’s expense.”
The lawsuit accuses the Pettegrows and Stephen Peabody, the owner of the BJ Co-op in Jonesport, Maine, of submitting fraudulent invoices, embezzlement of funds from Lobster 207’s members, and stealing lobster products.
“These schemes, carried out by Warren, Anthony, Josette, Trenton Bridge, and Peabody with the assistance of certain of their long-time business associates, employed the resources and influence of Trenton Bridge and stood out against the backdrop of a systematic pattern of blatant self-dealing and deception,” the lawsuit stated. “[The Pettegrews were] able to accomplish and profit from these schemes precisely because the person Lobster 207 entrusted to conduct its union business as its CEO – Warren Pettegrow – was and remained an integral member of the enterprise. Indeed, over the course of two years, Lobster 207 paid Warren USD 374,623.54 [EUR 339,462.54] while he did little more than embezzle money and lobster products from the union and its membership.”
The complaint does not identify the exact amount of money requested by the Maine Lobstering Union as compensation, but the Portland Press Herald estimated the amount at USD 1.94 million (EUR 1.76 million), while the Bangor Daily News put the amount at between USD 1.4 million (EUR 1.27 million) and USD 2.93 million (EUR 2.65 million).
The Pettegrows and Peabody did not respond to a request for comment from the Bangor Daily News.