Billionaire Secretly Settles Fired Aide’s Lawsuit
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ A fired executive’s $30 million lawsuit against financier Ronald Perelman had promised to expose how competing obligations to family and job can affect top-level corporate executives.
But after some dirty laundry was aired during six days of testimony by Fred Tepperman, the publicity-shy billionaire financier spared himself a trip to the witness stand, opting instead for a secret settlement Tuesday.
Judge Samuel Fredman of state Supreme Court, New York’s trial-level court, ordered all connected with the case to continue abiding by his gag order.
Perelman, worth an estimated $4.5 billion, owns Revlon cosmetics, Marvel comics, New World Communications and the Coleman camping-products company.
He was described by Tepperman’s attorney, Barry Slotnick, as ``evil″ and a ``petulant child″ who urged Tepperman to institutionalize his childhood sweetheart and wife of more than 30 years after she fell ill with Alzheimer’s disease.
Tepperman, 60, acknowledged that his personal problems sometimes left him unfocused, but maintained that he still did a good job, often working at home.
In 1984, Tepperman joined MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, which owns the Perelman financial empire, after being chief financial officer at Warner Communications. A year later he played a key role in the deal that made Perelman a takeover titan: his raid on Revlon.
Tepperman was fired as chief financial officer of MacAndrews & Forbes in December 1991, the year his base salary reached $1.3 million. With bonuses, he earned $2.5 million the year before.
Attorney Stanley Arkin, who defended Perelman, said Tepperman was fired because he cost the holding company ``tens of millions of dollars″ by not working up to par during the restructuring of Revlon.
Arkin said Tepperman missed important meetings, walked out of one at the stroke of 5 p.m. and took more than 10 weeks of vacation when he was only entitled to four.
Little more than a month after the firing, Tepperman sued, alleging he was terminated unjustly because he was spending too much time caring for his wife, Joan, now 57 and in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Perelman shuns publicity. In this trial he had faced the possibility that some inner workings of his business empire would be exposed.
Tepperman testified, for instance, that at daily breakfast meetings Perelman held in his Manhattan townhouse with his top lieutenants, the boss sometimes bragged about his sexual exploits. Perelman, 51, currently is married for the third time and has six children.
Tepperman also disclosed, under cross-examination from Arkin, that about two months ago he approached Perelman through intermediaries with an offer for a lucrative business deal. The judge wouldn’t allow questioning beyond that.
Fredman also barred questioning that Arkin had hoped would undermine Tepperman’s claims of concern for his wife. Arkin disclosed _ without the jury present _ that Tepperman now lives with his wife’s former nurse. Slotnick said Tepperman’s in-laws approve of the relationship.