Texaco Exec Feared Lundwall Anger
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ Texaco executive Richard Lundwall was so angry about being laid off that he vowed to get even, leading a colleague to fear he would ``come back and do physical harm to people,″ according to trial testimony today.
Instead, Lundwall went public with secretly recorded tapes that captured him and other company officers allegedly disparaging black employees and plotting to hide and destroy documents sought in a race discrimination case.
The tapes forced Texaco into a $176 million settlement of the discrimination case and led to the indictment of Lundwall, 56, and former Texaco Treasurer Robert Ulrich, 63, on charges of obstruction of evidence. They could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if convicted.
At the executives’ trial Wednesday in federal court in White Plains, prosecutors seemed to focus on Lundwall’s motives for going public with tapes that would get him into trouble.
Texaco executive Peter Meade said Lundwall, whom he described as a friend, railed at him at a 1996 company picnic about being forced out after 30 years with the oil giant. In addition, he testified, Lundwall complained that he was not getting a going-away party and that no one from Texaco had called during a recent hospital stay.
Meade invited Lundwall to lunch two weeks later, during which Lundwall loudly declared several times ``that he was going to get even with Texaco,″ Meade said.
He told the court he reported Lundwall’s concerns to his superior, the company treasurer, because ``I was concerned that Richard might come back and do physical harm to people.″
Lundwall’s attorney objected to the comment, and Judge Barrington Parker later ordered it stricken.
Meade added that Lundwall seemed ``much calmer″ a couple of weeks later. Defense attorney Vincent Briccetti tried to show that by ``getting even,″ Lundwall meant he would file an age discrimination suit.
Earlier, a Texaco secretary, Margaret Rooney, said that after Lundwall learned his job was being phased out, ``he alarmed me by saying something to the effect that he had something against the company, he had tapes of something to that effect, and he would be here a long time.″
She acknowledged on cross-examination that when she reported his remarks, she was told something like, ``Don’t worry about it. It’s just Richard.″
The prosecution also played portions of a CBS ``60 Minutes″ interview from a year ago in which Lundwall called himself ``Mr. Naive″ for thinking he might hold onto his job by releasing the tapes.
``That’s beyond naive,″ said interviewer Ed Bradley, to which Lundwall suggested, ``Bordering stupid?″
After the morning’s testimony, the prosecution rested its case and Parker rejected defense motions for acquittal.