A Rogers County manufacturing firm claims former company president, Phil Albert, embezzled at least $7.4 million from Pelco Structural.
Albert recently filed suit against Pelco, claiming he was wrongfully terminated in April 2019. The allegations against him are contained in a countersuit filed by Pelco.
The Pelco lawsuit against Albert claims he and the former controller for the company, Don Eagleton, worked together to siphon money through overpaid salaries, cash advances, loans, and credit cards while hiding it from the company, investors and the government.
Pelco manufactures steel poles for traffic signals, lighting, and communications. Albert is a co-founder of the company. He also is a part-owner of the property where Pelco Structural operates.
Albert's lawsuit claims he was terminated after reporting concerns one of Structural's customers had about the quality of their poles. That lawsuit claims a customer, NextEra, told Albert that Structural could have a liability of up to $20 million for damages. Pelco, in court documents, said it had insufficient information to either admit or deny the report of the quality problems.
Albert is asking a judge to order Pelco to return some of his personal property left at the company, to void a non-compete clause in his employment agreement., and order the company to pay him for his ownership stake.
Albert is a Regent for the University of Oklahoma, has served on the Claremore Industrial Authority, The Will Rogers Memorial Commission, and as 2017 Board Chairman of the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
Pelco issued a statement only verifying the company filed a countersuit against Albert over money the company alleges he embezzled. A call to Albert's attorney in Tulsa has not been returned. Court records do not indicate an attorney for Eagleton.
Paul DeMuro, Albert's attorney, issued the following statement on behalf of his client:
Phil Albert and Phil Parduhn started Pelco Structural, LLC in Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005.
“Starting the business with Mr. Parduhn is the highlight of my professional career,” Mr. Albert said.
Under Mr. Albert’s leadership, Pelco Structural has manufactured and shipped over $300 million of products from its Claremore, Oklahoma plant, creating hundreds of jobs for deserving Oklahomans.
Mr. Albert was shocked and dismayed when, in April of this year, Phil Parduhn’s sons abruptly forced him out of the company. We are now engaged in a business divorce. Like in many divorces, emotions run high, and inflammatory allegations are made.
We intend to pursue vigorously Mr. Albert’s claims and separate the wheat from the chaff on the claims against him.
The OU Board Of Regents released the following statement:
"Since this is a personal matter for Regent Albert, it is inappropriate for us to comment on the lawsuit. That said, Phil is an excellent Regent and we expect him to continue to serve well into the future."