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CEO accused of looting company

Fri., Sept. 11, 2009

Workers’ sit-in drew national attention

CHICAGO – After Republic Windows and Doors abruptly shuttered its North Side plant last winter, some of the 200 union workers who lost their jobs peacefully refused to leave for several days, demanding wages they’d earned and becoming a national symbol of the economic crisis.

On Thursday, Cook County prosecutors made a startling allegation: the sudden plant closing was all part of a months-long plot by the head of Republic Windows to loot the business, steal key manufacturing equipment and set up a new operation in Iowa.

After a judge hit former company CEO Richard Gillman with a whopping $10 million bond, he was led away to Cook County Jail while wearing a pin-striped suit, white collared-shirt and a dazed expression on his face.

Prosecutors laid out their case in an unusually detailed 56-page filing. Gillman and two other undisclosed executives abandoned Republic Windows’ crushing debt, stole its assets and secretly trucked the equipment from the plant to the new operation in Red Oak, Iowa, the charges alleged.

But that operation failed, too, just a month and a half after it started, leaving hundreds of employees from both Chicago and Iowa out of work and devastated.

All told, Gillman and the others defrauded company creditors of at least $10 million and stole more than $200,000 cash from Republic Windows, prosecutors alleged.

Gillman’s lawyer denied any wrongdoing.

News of Gillman’s arrest left Melvin Maclin, a 55-year-old father of six who lost his job at Republic and remains out of work, jubilant.

“I think God is good,” Maclin said before breaking out in laughter.

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