Former Glock CEO to stand trial

Allegations of racketeering, gun theft and embezzlement from one of the nation’s largest firearms distributors will all be aired in court beginning Tuesday, when the former general counsel for Glock Inc. stands trial in Cobb County.

Paul Jannuzzo, 55, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the theft and racketeering charges for which he was indicted in 2009. The case is also likely to shine a spotlight on the inner workings of Glock — a hugely profitable, privately-owned company with its North American headquarters in Smyrna — and what some former employees have alleged are its corrupt business practices.

Jannuzzo, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of stealing a custom-made LaFrance pistol from Glock and collaborating with Peter Manown, a Dunwoody lawyer and former Glock executive, to bilk the company of millions of dollars. Manown pleaded guilty in 2008 to three counts of theft in exchange for 10 years probation and no jail time. He is expected to testify at the trial.

The trial is scheduled to last about two weeks, according to Cobb County assistant District Attorney John Butters.

Jannuzzo’s lawyer, Robert Citronberg, did not return calls Friday.

Jannuzzo, a former New Jersey prosecutor, helped the company defend itself against patent infringements and fend off product liability lawsuits from 1991 to 2003. He also served as the CEO and public face of the company in the United States, appearing on television and at the White House.

The indictment alleges he and Manown redirected company funds into a bank account in the Cayman Islands and split the proceeds. He also is accused of maintaining a cloned bank account with which he and Manown skimmed thousands of dollars from Glock. Also, prosecutors say Jannuzzo acted as a guarantor on a $1 million loan to a company called BAITA, of which Manown was a vice president, without Glock’s knowledge.

Jannuzzo accused the gun maker in 2008 of using its complicated corporate structure to hide profits from the Internal Revenue Service. He gave the IRS boxes of internal Glock documents, according to a story published in Business Week.

Richard Feldman, a former gun industry lobbyist and an attorney, said the trial will be closely watched by national and international media because of the company’s high profile.

A book about the company’s history “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun,” debuted this year on The New York Times bestseller list. In it, author Paul M. Barrett details how Glock representatives marketed products to police procurement officers by taking them to strip clubs, and how company employees distributed campaign contributions to candidates who influenced public policy on guns.

“You have a company already in the news for a lot of reasons,” said Feldman, who has known Jannuzzo for almost 30 years and company founder Gaston Glock for about 20 years and considers them both friends. “Certainly there was sex and alcohol and corporate power, and then you throw in the political intrigue of the gun issue, and you get that multiplier effect.”

Jannuzzo fled the country in 2009 shortly before his trial was to begin, traveling to Mexico and later to The Netherlands before he was re-arrested in 2011 and extradited back to Georgia. He has been in the Cobb County Jail since May awaiting trial.

Three men hired by Glock to investigate yet another employee accused of stealing from the company also are awaiting trial on charges of racketeering, mail and wire fraud, extortion and theft. They have pleaded not guilty.

James Harper, a former federal prosecutor; Jeffrey Pombert, a lawyer; and Jerry Chapman, an accountant, were hired by Gaston Glock in 2000 to investigate allegations of embezzlement by another Glock associate who was convicted of trying to have Gaston Glock assassinated. Their theft is estimated in the indictment at $3 million.

-- Staff writer Michael Pell contributed to this article.