A Massachusetts beer baron has been sued by two of his sons for allegedly misappropriating $80 million of family business funds by ‘redistributing’ wealth to his other children, paying himself and his wife inflated salaries, and splurging tens of millions of dollars on art and antiques.
The allegations of misconduct made against Jerry Sheehan, 89, came in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court by two of his sons, Tim, 62, and John, 59, a few days before Christmas.
The aggrieved brothers, who were both at one time heavily involved in operations at the family’s domestic beer distribution company Sheehan Family Cos., argue they have been handed a disproportionate share of the fortunes compared to their six siblings, who are said to be less involved.
In their 92-page complaint, Tim and John accuse their father of shifting money around to ‘level the stacks’ among the eight siblings, in addition to ‘redistributing wealth’ to both himself and his wife, Maureen.
By ‘effectively misappropriating’ company funds, the brothers say, Jerry was able to pay himself and Maureen inflated salaries, make tens of millions of dollars in personal purchases of art, antiques, and other items, and donate millions in their names to their favorite charities.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
However, through a spokesperson, Jerry has hit back at his sons for their complaints, calling them 'so ungrateful', adding that he has given them 'a life of almost unparalleled privilege.'
Jerry Sheehan (center), 89 has been accused of misconduct by his sons Tim (right), 62, and John, 59, in a lawsuit center over their family's beer distribution company, Sheehan Family Cos.
Tim Sheehan (left) was fired as manger of the company's flagship distribution center in 2019 while litigation was pending on a previous dispute. John Sheehan (shown right with Jerry) remains with the business as manager of its Wisconsin wholesaling unit.
The corporate headquarters for the Sheehan Family Companies at 35 Elder Avenue in Kingston, MA is pictured above
Sheehan Family Cos. is almost entirely owned by Jerry and Maureen’s eight children as a result of estate planning by the couple decades ago, the Boston Globe reported. However, Jerry still maintains control over operations.
While the suit doesn’t specify damages, the legal filing alleges that Jerry has been responsible for more than $80 million in ‘fabricated “management fees” unsupported by formalized agreements and documented only through a one-line invoice, as well as millions of dollars in interest on intercompany loans.’Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The alleged actions of Jerry are the main focus of the claim, however his wife Margaret is also named as a defendant because of her role as a trustee.
The oldest of the Sheehan siblings and company director, Margaret Sheehan, 64, is also named as a defendant, as is Charles E. Clapp III, a trustee of trusts established for Margaret and her sisters Anne Landers and Susan Sheehan.
In their filing, Tim and John claim they’ve attempted to settle their outlined dispute with Jerry for a number of years, though have failed on each previous occasion.
While mediation was pending in 2018, Tim was reportedly suspended from his post running the company’s flagship distribution center on the South Shore.
The disciplinary motion allegedly came after Tim changed his legal residency to Florida, a move Jerry believed could have threatened the company’s deals in the state with Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch, according to the lawsuit.
Tim claims he was fired the following year. John, meanwhile, remains with the business as manager of its Wisconsin wholesaling unit.
‘After years of concerted and good-faith efforts to resolve this family business dispute, Plaintiffs are forced to bring this action as a last resort to put a stop to the unlawful behavior of the family patriarch . . . who is abusing his fiduciary powers over businesses owned by his children,’ the complaint reads, as reported by the Globe.
The lawsuit says that at least $33.5 million of company funds were contributed to a charitable-giving account at Fidelity Investments from 2012 through 2018 (pictured: Jerry Sheehan presents a $100k donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Marshfield in 2010)
Sheehan Family Cos. is one of the largest beer distributors in the US, with 19 distribution centers in 13 states. It is one of the largest