HIRED GUNS

07.13.15 5:00 AM ET

Insider: Glock Wanted My Wife So He Had Me Jailed

A new lawsuit alleges that billionaire gunmaker Gaston Glock used Georgia prosecutors and cops to punish a love rival.

It seems barely a month can go by without some former company insider filing suit against and spilling secrets about America’s favorite octogenarian gunmaker, Gaston Glock.

Late last year Helga Glock sued her ex-husband for $500 million—funds that she says he secretly siphoned from the business she and their children had helped build—in one of the largest civil suits ever to be filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. In March, an attorney hired to uncover corruption within the Glock empire filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the eponymous mogul turned on his own team when they discovered the criminal enterprise within the company was allegedly being run straight from the top.

While Glock’s lawyers fight these allegations, yet another ousted member of Glock’s inner circle is taking the notoriously secretive billionaire to court. Former Glock general counsel and chief operating officer Paul Jannuzzo is claiming in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Atlanta that Glock was the ringleader in a setup that put Jannuzzo behind bars for 3½ years.

Glock and his private company attorneys, Robert Core and John Renzulli, are named as defendants in the 66-page complaint. Neither Core nor Renzulli responded to emails seeking comment.

“Mr. Jannuzzo was properly indicted by a jury. He was found guilty of the charges by a jury. And then his conviction was reversed on a technicality. The allegations raised by Jannuzzo in his complaint are baseless, and Glock will aggressively defend itself,” Carlos Guevara, current general counsel of Glock Inc., told The Daily Beast.

The lawsuit alleges that Glock launched a stealth campaign against Jannuzzo and used millions of dollars—and the company’s immeasurable influence in the small Georgia town where it is headquartered—to use local prosecutors and law enforcement agents like puppets for Glock’s vengeance.

What’s more, Januzzo says, the setup to “bury him” was all over a woman.

“It wasn’t business. It was absolutely personal,” Januzzo said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “It was 100 percent about Monika.”

Glock first met Monika Bereczky—a slight, pixie-haired Romanian in her 20s who speaks perfect German—at an Atlanta hotel where she worked as a concierge. Glock would reportedly disappear from his company’s headquarters to sit for hours in the seafood restaurant where she also hostessed. “He was this kind old man who paid attention to me,” Bereczky recalled in Paul M. Barrett’s Glock: The Rise of America's Gun.

Within a year, Glock had offered her a job at his Atlanta offices. Her mother, a former ballerina and her roommate, cautioned her against taking it, but Bereczky—who was working three jobs and living in an insect-ridden apartment at the time—happily got onto the Glock payroll. The money and the hours were right, and Glock was willing to sponsor her work visa.

Bereczky’s role within the company was technically human resources manager, but her duties were also those of an executive assistant and often veered into the strangely personal. She said she was tasked not only with hiring and firing, but also entertaining Glock’s other women and managing Glock’s personal luxury estate. She stocked the refrigerator, cleaned up, placed candies on his pillow and ran late-night errands. Sometimes things got weird: The gun magnate would grab her thigh, she said, or greet her wearing only his underwear.

“I don’t know what he thought I would do when I saw him half-naked,” Bereczky told Barrett. “I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.”

Glock had a special disdain for his American employees, Jannuzzo said. And Bereczky—like the other German-speaking hires—was allegedly there to spy on and breed contempt amidst her American counterparts.

“He would come out of the conference room for a meeting with his hand around my waist,” she told Barrett. ”He laughed and let them know he owns me. I was something like a fool…” she said. “I hated that the Americans thought I was Mr. Glock’s bimbo.”

Before long, Bereczky—who maintains she never slept with Glock—was defecting. She and Jannuzzo started seeing each other and eventually married. But even that union didn’t quell Glock’s obsession with Bereczky, Jannuzzo said.

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From 1991 to 2003, Jannuzzo had been Glock’s general counsel and later his chief operating officer. During those 12 years, his lawsuit claims, he witnessed the company being run like a criminal organization, illegally hiding money in sham corporations and laundering the cash through bogus transactions to pad Glock’s pockets. (Other civil complainants with insider knowledge of the $400 million company have registered similar allegations.)

By 2003, Jannuzzo says he’d had enough of Glock’s aggressiveness toward Bereczky—in fact, Mrs. Jannuzzo by this time—and went to his employer’s Atlanta estate to resign in person. There were other issues as well: Jannuzzo says he’d angered the NRA by suggesting in an interview with 60 Minutes that Glock might participate in a national gun database, and he says the company had become a tense place to work, crawling with private eyes hired by Glock after an ex-associate tried to have the boss killed to hide his own $100 million embezzlement.

The lawsuit says that Jannuzzo’s goodbye with Glock was heated: Armed with a box of corporate files, he took the opportunity to tell his former boss that there was “substantial evidence of illegal activities” uncovered by an internal investigation. That very internal investigation—led by former federal prosecutor James Harper—allegedly implicated Glock in a racketeering scheme within his own company. Jannuzzo told Glock he expected a sizeable severance for his silence, $4 million, according to some reports.

Bereczky quit alongside Jannuzzo, but at Glock’s insistence, agreed to meet him, according to the complaint. At a meeting in the Atlanta airport, Glock allegedly told Bereczky that she was always welcome back, then asked her to take their relationship “to the next level.” Glock offered her a home, a car, and “all the money she needed” if she would be his mistress in Vienna, according to the complaint. If she refused, her husband Jannuzzo would be “finished.”

May 19, 2006 - Vienna, Austria - GASTON GLOCK at the Lisa Film ''Gala Night of Friends for Friends'' - Karl Spiehs celebrates 75th birthday.  Gaston Glock (born July 19, 1929) is an Austrian engineer, and founder of the firearms company Glock. The Glock 'safe-action' pistol is well regarded and has often been copied by other companies. In July 1999 Charles Ewert, a business associate of Glock, hired a French ex-mercenary to murder Glock (who was 70 years old at that time) with a mallet in a garage in Luxembourg in an apparent attempt to cover up embezzlement of millions from the Glock company. Although Glock's injuries included seven head wounds and the loss of about a litre of blood, Glock was able to fend off the attack by striking the hitman twice. The hired killer, 67-year-old J. Pecheur, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the attack. C. Ewert was sentenced to 20 years as a result of Pecheur's testimony..(Credit Image: © Nekula Dabei/Viennareport/ZUMAPRESS.com) (Newscom TagID: zumaamericaseight150046.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Nekula Dabei/Viennareport/ZUMAPRESS/Newscomm

Glock’s affection for women—both as a marketing tool for his handguns and as personal companions—is well known in the gun world. The company would often entertain clients with visits to a since-closed strip joint, Atlanta’s Gold Club, and would use the women who worked there to represent Glock and keep him company at trade shows, according to Barrett’s book and insiders with knowledge of Glock’s dealings.

Glock was also allegedly known to rent homes for his Atlanta mistresses. According to Helga Glock’s RICO suit, he maintained a personal slush fund to “cavort with women around the world.” Most notably, he ended his 49-year marriage after a 2008 stroke and quickly made it official with Katrin Tschikof, the nurse-slash-mistress who happens to be 50 years his junior.

In sworn testimony before Georgia prosecutors, Glock Inc. executive and disbarred attorney Peter Manown—who later confessed to stealing hundreds of thousands from the company—also called Glock’s treatment of Bereczky “overly familiar,” and characterized Jannuzzo’s resignation as the executive “having enough of this dirty old man.” (Manown’s cooperation in Jannuzzo’s prosecution in exchange for a probated sentence would ultimately lead to Jannuzzo’s indictment and conviction.)

Shortly after Jannuzzo’s resignation, Harper—the former federal prosecutor turned private investigator—and his team all quit. Glock then turned his sights on both Harper’s team and Jannuzzo, orchestrating a scheme to prosecute those “potentially privy to information uncovered by Harper regarding Glock Sr. illegal activities,” the complaint says.

It seemed to be a win/win situation for Glock. According to the complaint, Glock’s criminal prosecution of Harper’s team—the gunmaker claimed they had overbilled him—also targeted Jannuzzo, since he’d approved the bills as general counsel. Glock could satisfy his personal vendetta over Bereczky and smear Harper at the same time, the complaint says.

After an initial plea to federal prosecutors to go after Harper and Jannuzzo proved unsuccessful, Glock turned to local authorities in Smyrna, Georgia, with whom Jannuzzo says the company had limitless sway.

Glock and his hired investigators, Core and Renzulli, “had a friend…they could manipulate and control,” according to the complaint: Cobb County Assistant District Attorney John Butters and lead detective Keith Harrison. Due to the kind of immunity generally granted to public employees in these cases, Butters and Harrison are named as co-conspirators, not defendants in this suit.

(Butters, who did not return a phone call requesting comment, is at the center of another high-profile case, involving the CEO of Waffle House, Joe Rogers Jr., who claims Butters and another attorney set up their client, Roger’s maid, to secretly record a sex act with the founding son in order to extort money. Butters has denied the allegations, but a judge still disqualified him from representing Rogers’s maid as a result.)

In 2009, six years after his resignation—and, an appeals court would later decide, far beyond the statute of limitations for this kind of crime—Jannuzzo was indicted by a grand jury in Cobb County for his part in a scheme to steal over $300,000 in company funds and for stealing a firearm that had been used as a prop in trials that he’d argued as Glock’s general counsel.

The prosecutor and state investigators outsourced the entire case to Glock’s hired attorneys, the lawsuit claims. Core “did everything short of actually presenting the prosecution’s case at trial,” and Renzulli was given nearly free rein and used it to “tamper with witnesses and evidence, withhold exculpatory evidence, and advocate positions that were clearly and directly contrary to established law,” the complaint alleges.

“The prosecutor has heightened professional obligations different from that of a private lawyer,” Jannuzzo's lawyer, John Da Grosa Smith, told The Daily Beast. “Under the rules of professional conduct, a prosecutor is a minister of justice who is responsible for not just advocating for a position, but seeing that justice is done. In this case, by outsourcing the prosecution in investigation to private lawyers, who represent and advocate for [Glock], the protections that exist in a normal criminal prosecution were erased.”

Regardless of—or because of—the state’s alleged collusion with Glock’s private actors, Jannuzzo was convicted on both charges in 2012. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 13 years probation. But in 2013, the state Supreme Court overturned both convictions, citing the statute of limitations, and Jannuzzo was released after 3½ years behind bars.

Now, Jannuzzo is the one seeking payback. But as one of three (soon to be four, maybe five) former friends of Glock waiting for revenge and financial compensation, he’ll have to get in line. And if there is any truth to recent reports of aging Gaston Glock’s poor health, the courts will have to work fast.