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Rodino charges business foes with improperly exploiting allegations of misdeeds

In new legal papers, Terry Rodino, an Elkhart County commissioner, lashes out at business foes for seizing on allegations of sexual misconduct he faces in their legal dispute over management of the wood pallet firm they jointly own.
Posted on Jan. 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — In new court papers, Terry Rodino lashes out at a pair of minority shareholders in the businesses the three jointly own, accusing them of improperly exploiting the allegations of sexual misconduct he faces in their ongoing legal dispute.

“No emergency exists,” Rodino’s lawyer, E. Spencer Walton Jr. of Mishawaka, argues in one of the filings, a brief against the call by the minority shareholders’ for their jointly held firms to be put in receivership. “Terry Rodino has not been charged with any crime nor has he been convicted of any crime. Yet the (minority shareholders) clearly have concluded he is guilty and desire to use the opportunity for further damage the Duro entities they claim they want to protect.”

Rodino, president of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners, is embroiled in three standing lawsuits over management and control of the wood pallet firm and other companies he jointly owns with Tim Dugle and Amit Shah. Rodino, re-elected last November to his third term as a county commissioner, is the majority stakeholder in the Elkhart area firms, Duro Inc., Duro Recycling and Duro Realty.

Dugle and Shah — the plaintiffs in the suits — are minority shareholders and accuse Rodino of mismanagement.

Last November, the lawsuits took a new turn after news emerged that Rodino was the target of an Elkhart Police Department investigation, allegedly for some sort of inappropriate sexual activity. That case was later handed over to the Allen County Prosecutors’ Office to determine if any charges are merited, while Dugle and Shah seized on the matter in their legal battle.

The minority stakeholders subsequently filed emergency motions seeking appointment of a receiver to take over day-to-day management of the Duro entities, citing, in part, the allegations of sexual misconduct against Rodino. Rodino’s alleged misdeeds, they argued, would expose the companies to negative publicity and, potentially, lawsuits.

Rodino answered in the new court papers — a portion of them filed Monday in Elkhart Superior Court 3 in Goshen, others filed in LaGrange Circuit Court in LaGrange — saying Dugle’s and Shah’s filings lack merit and were meant to embarrass. Aside from the brief against receivership, Rodino also asked for court sanctions against Dugle and Shah for allegedly violating protective orders forbidding disclosure of “confidential information” about the Duro businesses.

“In fact, the plaintiff’s entire ‘emergency’ motion is based upon guess, speculation and conjecture, based only on allegations made by an alleged victim with no charges being filed, and certainly no conviction being rendered by any competent court,” Walton wrote in one of the briefs in the Dugle case. “The entire pleading filed by the plaintiff was intended to injure, embarrass and damage the corporation publicly by alleging nothing but guess, speculation and conjecture regarding the effect that it ‘might’ have on the corporate entities.”

FINANCIAL MANAGER APPOINTED

Rodino’s new filings don’t delve into particulars of the allegations of sexual misdeeds he faces, emphasizing only that he’s neither been charged nor convicted of any criminal wrongdoing. A representative from the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office didn’t respond to a query Monday from The Elkhart Truth seeking an update on the matter.

But in calling for receivership last November, Dugle and Shah dug into the allegations, citing, among other documents, an Elkhart General Hospital “suspected sexual assault form” dated Oct. 30.

The alleged incident occurred Oct. 29 at a Duro location in Elkhart and involved Rodino and a woman with whom he had a business relationship. As described in the EGH form and other documents in Dugle’s and Shah’s filings, Rodino forced himself sexually on the woman, despite her efforts at resistance.

Several former workers accused Rodino of making unwanted sexual advances on them in a series of 2008 affidavits that are part of Dugle’s lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the judge overseeing the cases, LaGrange Circuit Court Judge J. Scott VanDerbeck, has ordered appointment of an outside manager to handle the Duro entities’ financial matters for the next 90 days. Like the other new filings, it was filed Monday in Elkhart Superior Court 3 in Goshen.

CrossRoads Business Advisors of Granger will have limited supervisory control over the businesses’ financial accounts and exclusive approval authority over all expenditures. In the 90 days it assumes the duties, an audit of the Duro businesses is to be completed, part of the efforts to resolve the legal disputes.

No decision has been made on Rodino’s calls for court sanctions against Dugle and Shah for allegedly disclosing confidential information. There’s no indication of a ruling in the case filings, at least.

Dugle and Shah’s lawyer, John Henning of Indianapolis, declined comment when contacted Tuesday. Walton, Rodino’s attorney, didn’t return a call seeking comment.




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