ATLANTA — The vice president of firearms manufacturing giant Glock Inc. confessed nine years ago to the company’s founder that he and another top officer had been stealing millions from the company, later telling investigators there was so much cash flying around that it seemed like “Monopoly money.”
The executive, Peter Manown, was sentenced to 10 years probation after pleading guilty to theft and is now set to be the government’s star witness against the man he says was his accomplice, one-time Glock attorney Paul Jannuzzo.
Jannuzzo is set to go to trial Tuesday on theft and racketeering charges.
Jannuzzo’s trial threatens to expose new details about the privately held international firearms manufacturer, which bases its U.S. headquarters in a quiet Georgia suburb. In a 2007 interview with investigators, Manown detailed internal tension among executives and claimed he was able to exploit loose financial practices at the gunmaker, which makes millions selling firearms to law enforcement agencies across the globe.
All told, the two are accused of stealing more than $5 million from the company and its holdings, according to court records.
Jannuzzo has pleaded not guilty. His attorney Robert Citronberg didn’t return calls seeking comment.
A former New Jersey prosecutor, Jannuzzo was hired by Glock in 1991 to be the company’s general counsel, and he soon became one of the top officers in the U.S.
Manown said the two began working together to plunder the company.
“It was so easy,” he told investigators. “There was so much money flying around in this company, in this industry. It was like Monopoly money.”
By early 2003, though, the relationship between Jannuzzo and company founder Gaston Glock had grown tense. Manown said he watched as Jannuzzo stormed into Glock’s house and threatened to air the company’s dirty laundry if he wasn’t given a $4 million payout.
Jannuzzo soon quit, and in the months that followed, Manown said his guilt about the money he took began to eat at his conscience. He told prosecutors he grew increasingly nervous about whether Glock was investigating him, and after a few sleepless nights he decided to come forward.
Manown’s attorney, Bruce Morris, said his client confessed to Glock officials in October 2003 on his own accord before law enforcement got involved. He said Manown turned over all his records and more than $1 million to repay part of what he owed.
“He felt that he needed to clear his conscience,” Morris said.
Neither Manown nor Jannuzzo were charged with any crimes until Glock turned over the details of its internal investigation to Cobb County authorities in 2007. Manown pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and agreed to be interviewed by a Cobb County prosecutor and a Glock official.
Manown said he and Jannuzzo said greed led them to take the money.
About a year later, Cobb County prosecutors charged Jannuzzo with stealing money by forging Gaston Glock’s signature, fabricating loan documents and pilfering corporate funds. They say he funneled the money through an elaborate network of foreign bank accounts and company holdings.
Manown said in the interview he stored most of the money in an offshore bank account, but that he’s not sure what Jannuzzo did with his money.
Jannuzzo was initially set to go to trial in October 2009 but fled to Mexico, according to court records, and didn’t return until federal agents tracked him down in Amsterdam. He was extradited to the U.S. in May, and he’s been in jail since. If convicted of all counts, he could face decades in prison.
Three other men linked to Glock are awaiting trial on charges of stealing from the firm in a separate case. James Harper, a former federal prosecutor hired by Glock to investigate fraud, and two members of his investigative team were charged with stealing about $3 million from the gunmaker. They have pleaded not guilty, and Harper has said the allegations were a misguided attempt by Glock to discredit him.