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Empire Excoriates Breakthru Offer, Calling It An “Outrageous Publicity Stunt”

November 11, 2016

Hours after Breakthru Beverage Group made what it termed an “aggressive and substantial” offer for Empire Merchants, Empire said it wasn’t for sale—and excoriated Breakthru’s play in an exclusive statement to SND.

“This is an outrageous publicity stunt by Breakthru. Empire Merchants isn’t for sale, and Breakthru is up to no good misbehaving in this ham-handed manner and suckering the press into reporting its bogus bid,” read the statement issued by Randy Mastro, Empire’s attorney. “Such diversionary tactics cannot obscure the serious RICO and fraud charges Breakthru’s Maryland affiliate is now facing in Empire Merchants’ pending New York civil lawsuit.”

In September, Empire sued one of its co-owners, Charlie Merinoff, as well as Breakthru CEO Greg Baird in federal court in New York. In its complaint, the Brooklyn-based Empire said Merinoff, Baird and others defrauded the company through their involvement in an interstate smuggling scheme stemming from Merinoff’s and Baird’s time with Charmer Sunbelt Group.

Earlier this year, Charmer Sunbelt merged with Wirtz Beverage Group to form Breakthru. Merinoff was named a co-chairman of the newly-formed company, while Baird became its president and CEO. Empire, which is co-owned by the Merinoff/Drucker and Magliocco families, wasn’t part of the deal, instead remaining independent.

For its part, Breakthru told SND that the timing of the offer for Empire “wasn’t related to the lawsuit.” But Empire clearly feels differently. —Peter Zwiebach

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