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Breakthru Denies Allegations Made Against Top Execs In Empire Merchants’ Federal Lawsuit

September 21, 2016

Hours after a federal lawsuit was filed against some of its top executives, Breakthru Beverage issued a statement denying the allegations made in the complaint and said it will fight back aggressively. 

Yesterday, New York’s Empire Merchants filed suit against Breakthru co-chairman Charlie Merinoff and Breakthru president and CEO Greg Baird, claiming that both men—and others—were involved in a smuggling scheme that diverted millions of tax dollars from New York State.

“These allegations are wholly without merit and will be fought aggressively,” said the statement, which was signed by Breakthru co-chairman Rocky Wirtz and vice chairman Danny Wirtz. “We take very seriously any accusation that impugns the integrity of Breakthru Beverage. The foundation of our company was built generations ago on the pillars of integrity and hard work. Those values hold strong today.”

Breakthru was formed earlier this year when Charmer Sunbelt Group—long controlled by the Merinoff family—merged with Wirtz Beverage Group. Empire—co-owned by the Merinoff/Drucker family and the Magliocco family—didn’t join Breakthru, instead remaining on its own.

Also named in Empire’s complaint was Lloyd Sobel, who was fired yesterday as Empire’s CEO, and a number of retailers in Maryland and New York who Empire says also took part in the alleged smuggling scheme. —Peter Zwiebach

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