HUNTINGTON -- A Huntington jeweler says a New Jersey enterprise swindled it out of at least $25,175 through fraudulent business practices.
C.F. Reuschlein, the jeweler, is suing Arthur D'Annunzio, Philip D'Annunzio and three of their companies -– D'Annunzio and Company, D'Annunzio Distribution and D'Annunzio Showcase Dealers -- in Cabell Circuit Court.
The companies are all based in Totawa, N.J., and are engaged in the manufacture, distribution and selling of jewelry and related products, according to the plaintiff's complaint.
The plaintiff said that, for many years, it had a business relationship with the defendants wherein it was an authorized dealer for the defendants' products. The defendants would ship the merchandise to West Virginia, the complaint says.
In March 2005, the plaintiff says the defendant altered the business arrangement. Under the new deal, the plaintiff was required to remit $2,083 per month to the defendants. That money was placed in an account. Whenever the plaintiff needed merchandise, the costs would be subtracted from that account, the complaint says.
Sometime in late 2006, the plaintiff said the D'Annunzio enterprise began to have inventory shortages, due to the expanding market for its products. The defendants asked the plaintiff to return some of the merchandise in order to satisfy the demand.
The plaintiff contends the defendants said it was only a temporary situation and that the merchandise would be replaced as soon as possible.
On Jan. 26, 2007, the plaintiff returned the merchandise to the defendants and the account was credited $9,820.
In February 2007, the defendant shipped some of the merchandise back to the plaintiff and the account was debited for $2,180, the complaint says.
As of that date, the plaintiff says its account with the defendants, without interest, is $19,425.
In addition, the plaintiff said its president attended trade shows put on by the defendants and was promised to have his or her travel expenses reimbursed. The complaint said the plaintiff spent $1,100 traveling to these shows.
After the last shipment of merchandise, the plaintiff contends that the D'Annunzio enterprise failed to responds to the plaintiff's requests to replenish its inventory. The defendants kept telling the plaintiff that the orders it was making would be honored. But the plaintiff believes this was the beginning of the end of the business relationship and that the defendant was only trying to "lull" the plaintiff into feeling secure enough not to file a lawsuit.
After a while, the plaintiff asked to have the money it had in the D'Annunzio account refunded. The plaintiff said he was given the run-around.
At one point, the plaintiff alleges that a representative of the defendant enterprise said that the D'Annunzio company that owed the money was different from the one through which the plaintiff ordered the merchandise.
The plaintiff likened this to a game of "three card monte" and an effort by the defendants to pay up.
Soon, the defendants were not taking calls from the plaintiff.
"The defendants have individually and collectively acted in a willful, wanton, malicious manner to defraud the plaintiff and convert its money and property to their own use and benefit," says the complaint prepared by lawyer William D. Levine.
Considering the current rate of 7.5 percent post-judgment interest, the plaintiff says the defendant owes at least $25,175 and up to $74,999.
This case has been assigned to Cabell Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.
Cabell Circuit Court case number: 09-C-57