The co-founder of a Mount Vernon glass products manufacturer, Robert Tarpey, has filed for personal bankruptcy to stave off a lawsuit that accuses him and his family of looting the company.Tarpey has denied the accusations and counterclaimed that it was Myles Kehoe, also a co-founder of Bronx Westchester Tempering Inc., who diverted company resources.
Tarpey filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on July 9, one week before a trial was to begin in Westchester Supreme Court. On July 10, he filed a notice to move Kehoe’s lawsuit to White Plains federal courts because issues in both cases are intertwined.
Bronx Westchester Tempering, founded in 2007, is more commonly known as BWT Glass. It makes tempered glass products, such as store fronts, doors, shower enclosures and glass railings.
The manufacturing facility at 160 S. MacQuesten Parkway is in the Bronx but has a Mount Vernon mailing address.
Kehoe, of Manhattan, is the largest individual shareholder, with 34.9 percent of the shares. Tarpey and his wife, Jane, of White Plains, own 34.9 percent together.
Tarpey’s bankruptcy petition estimates assets and liabilities between $1 million and $10 million. Among his unsecured claims are three Chase accounts totaling nearly $2.3 million.
But it is the company dispute that is at the center of Tarpey’s financial problems. He has been notified that a special meeting of shareholders and directors will take up the question of whether he should be fired immediately.
“I expect to no longer be employed by BWT following the meeting,” he said in an affidavit. “I believe that my employment termination will cause both BWT and I financial disaster, as BWT will likely be unable to pay its significant ongoing debt obligations without me there to run the company.”
Kehoe sued Tarpey, his wife Jane and daughter Nicole last year, accusing them of using the company “as their personal piggy bank.”
He was joined in the lawsuit by shareholders John Arminio of New Rochelle and Alex Budu of Mount Vernon.
The lawsuit alleges that Robert Tarpey paid himself and family members inflated salaries. The complaint stated that the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal meals, travel, gym fees and entertainment, and it paid college tuitions for two daughters. When the Tarpeys went to Panama to buy a vacation home, the complaint added, they traveled first class at company expense. Then they furnished the home by redeeming credit card points valued at $500,000.
The lawsuit charges the Tarpeys with fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion of assets and unjust enrichment. Kehoe wants the court to dissolve BWT, and he is asking for $300,000 in damages.
Tarpey denied the allegations and countersued for fraud, defamation, unjust enrichment and other charges.
He said Kehoe agreed to his salary, also used company resources for gym fees and other personal expenses, and encouraged his daughters to pursue advance college degrees.
Kehoe traveled with him on the trip to Panama, Tarpey said, “on the same airline and on the same class.”
Tarpey claimed that Kehoe tried to remove and replace him as company president last year, after Kehoe lost his job.
The employer is not identified, but Kehoe’s LinkedIn profile shows a position as deputy director of facilities for the New York City Department of Education from 2008 to 2017. Now he is director of facilities management for the Park Avenue Armory, according to the profile. It also shows him as owner of Bronx Westchester Tempering, but only from 2006 to 2010.
The bankruptcy case, Tarpey said in an affidavit, “will provide me with the opportunity to reorganize my financial affairs in an orderly manner and allow me to pay my debts.”
He is represented in the bankruptcy action by attorney Jeffrey A. Reich and in the lawsuit by James P. Donohue Jr.
Kehoe is represented by Russell M. Yankwitt and Sarah A. Sulkowski.