Pelco Structural has accused former president Phil Albert of embezzling $7.4 million from the steel pole manufacturing company between 2010 and his dismissal eight months ago.
The accusation is contained in an answer and counterclaim to Albert’s Nov. 1 lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully terminated when he notified the company of multimillion liability claims for defective lighting poles sold to a Florida utility company.
Albert is a prominent Tulsa businessman who serves on the Oklahoma University Board of Trustees. He was fired from Pelco Structural April 19. He filed his suit against the company on Nov. 1 in Rogers County District Court.
Pelco Structural, a major employer in Claremore, responded on Nov. 25. Albert co-founded the business in 2005 with Phil Parduhn of Edmond, who served as chairman of Pelco Structural, LLC.
No criminal complaints have been filed in the dispute. Pelco officials were not available to The Progress on Wednesday to determine if they had alerted the district attorney’s office to the company’s embezzlement accusation.
Paul DeMuro, an attorney for Albert, said in a statement to The Progress that Albert was “shocked and dismayed when, in April of this year, Phil Parduhn’s sons abruptly forced him out of the company.”
The statement said Albert and the sons are engaged in a “business divorce,” adding: “Like in many divorces, emotions run high, and inflammatory alleges are made. We intend to pursue vigorously Mr. Albert’s claims (of wrongful termination), and separate the wheat from the chaff on the claims against him.”
Pelco’s counterclaim against Albert said he received unauthorized salary, bonus and vacation “reimbursements” amounting to at least $3.3 million. The company also accused him of charging $2 million against Pelco credit cards for personal expenses such as jewelry, custom made suits, fine dining, cigars, casino charges, political and charitable donations and travel.
“Albert unilaterally and without authorization, paid himself a salary greater than that authorized by his employment agreement,” Pelco said. “In particular, from Jan. 1, 2010, through April 19, payroll records indicate that Albert received unauthorized salary payments ... that exceeded his agreed salary by at least $32,477.82.”
The company’s counterclaim alleged Albert conspired with former company controller Don E. Eagleton to conceal his embezzlement scheme that Pelco said included fraud, computer crimes and theft.
Court records can be found at: