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Ousted Sierracin President Charges Death Threat : Lawsuit Does Not Detail Allegation Against Aerospace Company and Its Chairman

April 23, 1986|DANIEL AKST | Times Staff Writer

The former president of Sylmar-based Sierracin Corp. alleges in a lawsuit that Christoph Tribull, the company's chairman, threatened to have him killed for opposing his plans.

In the latest round of litigation involving Sierracin, a slumping aerospace and electronics company, Peter K. Maeussnest is suing the company, its chairman and the chairman's personal company in Los Angeles Superior Court. Tribull, through Servitec International, his private company, controls Sierracin with 42% of its outstanding stock.

Allegations Called 'Nonsense'

Leon Cooper, Sierracin's lawyer, termed Maeussnest's allegation of death threats "nonsense," noting that Maeussnest never notified police of any threats.

Maeussnest's suit gives no details of the alleged threats, other than to say they occurred last summer.

Reached at his Pacific Palisades home, Maeussnest declined to comment on the suit but acknowledged that he never told police of the alleged threats because "I didn't think it would do any good." His suit asks for $50 million in punitive damages plus unspecified actual damages.

Maeussnest's complaint also alleges that he was fired last summer for refusing to go along with several Tribull initiatives that he believed would damage the company. These included a stock buy-back plan intended to give Tribull a majority stake in the company, and a $1-million interest-free loan that Tribull wanted from Sierracin, the suit says.

Maeussnest also alleges he was pressured to lie in a lawsuit involving Boeing and to withdraw a job recommendation for former director Berenice Stevenson, an opponent of Tribull who left the company.

Stevenson is also suing the company and its chairman. In court papers, she, too, accuses Tribull of threatening her life, and alleges breach of contract, stock manipulation, defamation and fraud. Stevenson filed the Los Angeles Superior Court suit in March, about six weeks after the company sued her, accusing her of defamation for allegedly telling people that Tribull diverted corporate funds for his own use.

The company and its chairman are being sued also by Herbert and Euretta Hastings, an Oakland-area couple who contend that Tribull may have improperly spent company funds on personal expenses such as polo ponies and a home in Beverly Hills. The couple, who hold 7% of the company's stock, are demanding court records detailing any Sierracin expenditures on behalf of the chairman. They say those expenditures total more than $1 million, apart from Tribull's salary, over the past five years.

Tribull's secretary said Tuesday that he would not comment on the latest allegations. He has said in the past that the expenses were legitimate.

Both Are Germans

Maeussnest, 46, and Tribull, 45, are both Germans who met in business school outside of Paris. Maeussnest said he joined Sierracin in 1981 after 14 years with ITT in Stuttgart. His 1985 salary as president was $182,000.

Sierracin lost $2.7 million on revenue of $74.9 million last year. In 1984, the company earned $4.5 million on revenue of nearly $83.5 million.

A spokesman blamed the company's poor showing last year on a downturn in the electronics business and the company's defeat in litigation with Boeing, in which a jury found that a Sierracin joint venture used Boeing designs to make cockpit windows for other aircraft manufacturers.

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