Republic exec charged with theft, money laundering

September 10, 2009 4:31:54 PM PDT
The sit-in at Republic Windows and Doors received national attention last year.Now the Chicago company's former chief executive, Richard Gillman, is accused of theft and money laundering.

Gillman appeared in court on Thursday and the judge ordered him held on $10 million.

Republic was abruptly shutdown late last year. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs, triggering a sit-in at the plant on the city's North Side.

Richard Gillman was arrested on Wednesday at his Gold Coast home.

Prosecutors say the 56-year-old conspired to steal funds from his failing company as well as hijack equipment to a new company Gillman had bought in Iowa.

Gillman appeared in court on Thursday. The judge set his bond at a much higher amount than what the state requested.

Without warning, the North Side company shut down, leaving over 200 workers without jobs right before Christmas last year. But the employees of Republic Windows and Doors refused to leave until they were paid severance and vacation time. Their sit-in captured the attention of the nation.

At the time, Republic's owner Richard Gillman blamed the banks for cutting off his credit but on Thursday the Cook County state's attorney say that is not the real story.

"Unbeknownst to those workers at the plants and to the company's creditors, the owner and operators of this business had been stealing funds and making secret plans to steal the company's equipment," said Anita Alvarez, Cook County state's attorney.

Cook county state's attorney Anita Alvarez says Republic had been experiencing financial problems for years. She says Gillman knew the company was headed for closure, instead of meeting its legal obligations to creditors and employees, Gillman allegedly devised a scheme to benefit himself and others.

"Their greed even extended to using the failing company's money to pay off the leases on two luxury automobiles belonging to Gillman and another employee," said Alvarez.

Gillman is charged with several counts of various financial fraud crimes. The state's attorney asked for a $500,000 bond, instead, after reading a 56-page report, Judge Judy Chiambus set bond at $10 million.

"That was the most blatant abuse of judicial discretion that I have ever seen in 45 years," said Ed Genson, defense attorney.

Gillman's wife Sharon had no comment as her husband's attorney Ed Genson told her about the high bond.

Meantime, the union representing the republic employees reacted with the following statement: "We feel like justice has finally come and we all hope that this is the beginning of more bosses being held accountable for their crimes against workers."

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis called the investigation a result of a callous corporate culture.

Police say it began to investigate Republic after a request from one of Gillman's creditors.

Anita Alvarez says the sit-in by workers helped because it preserved evidence that she says may have been destroyed had Gillman and others been allowed back in the building after the company closed its doors.


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