Tuesday, December 08, 2009, 12/08/2009 01:21:00 PM

The Prodigal Son-In-Law: Trade Secrets Theft Damages Issue Submitted to Florida Jury in Weird Family Legal Battle

By Todd

TCPalm.com is reporting that a decade-old legal battle launched by members of a once-close Palm City, Florida family torn apart by million-dollar financial disputes, arson and industrial espionage is back in court with a new jury seated Monday to pick up where a 2004 jury left off.

Five years ago, a Martin, Florida jury found that in 1998, Port St. Lucie plastics manufacturer Premiere Lab Supply stole a machine and its design — considered trade secrets — from Chemplex Industries, a rival Palm City business founded by Monte Solazzi that uses a thin plastic film to make medical and industrial sample cups and containers.

This jury will determine damages owed to Chemplex.

The machine thief, court records show, was Solazzi’s son-in-law, Anthony Norelli, who worked for Chemplex until Solazzi in 1998 terminated him and sales manager Donato Pompa.
According to court records, Norelli and Pompa established Premiere in part by using the production machine stolen from Chemplex, and soon after began luring away hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Chemplex.

Norelli though, bent on destroying Chemplex, twice hired someone to torch the building at its former Stuart site. After the second fire in 2000, Chemplex relocated to Palm City.

Federal authorities arrested Norelli, who pleaded guilty to tax charges and arson for hiring an accomplice to burn Chemplex. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but last month a judge ordered him back to prison for three months for violating the terms of his supervised release.

Pompa, who in court on Monday said Norelli was no longer his partner in Premiere, was also convicted in federal court for a theft of trade secret from Chemplex. He was ordered to serve five months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Court records filed in May show Pompa is hoping a judge will dismiss a $240,000 federal restitution order, the amount of money he was ordered to pay to Chemplex following his guilty plea.

In court Monday, Solazzi’s attorney, William Davis of Miami, grilled Pompa about the revenue generated at Premiere Lab between 1999 and 2007, the time frame for which the firm utilized the machine taken from Chemplex.

“Would you agree sir that between 1999 and Aug. 3, 2007, that on average Premiere was selling these thin film products for roughly 57 percent less in terms of price than Chemplex?” Davis asked.

“I don’t know what the calculations is as far as what their selling prices are,” Pompa said. “I don’t have those figures in front of me.”

The trial is expected to last through Friday.

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