Couple Ran Biz Into Ground, Investors Say

(CN) – Shareholders in one of Chicago’s few minority-owned cement contractors claim the husband and wife who control the business looted it, using it as a “personal piggy bank,” causing it to default on a critical $8.4 million loan, then lied about it all.

     The derivative complaint in Cook County Court claims that Edward and Cordia Forte abused Speedy Redi-Mix Holdings to support their lavish lifestyle and outside business interests, then lied to shareholders, telling them foreclosure of the loan had wiped the company out.
     Then the Fortes went out and secured several lucrative construction contracts, the shareholders say.
     In addition, the shareholders say, the Fortes used Speedy Redi-Mix’s equipment for work done by their other businesses, used the company as leverage to secure independent trucking contracts, and failed to file federal and state taxes, leading to charges and penalties.
     The five named plaintiffs say they tried to intercede in the company’s affairs after Speedy Redi-Mix’s financial difficulties became undeniable, going so far as offering to buy the outstanding bank note.
     They claim the Fortes resisted these efforts because they knew that after assuming control of the company, the plaintiffs would “audit Speedy’s books and records and seek full repayment … for all amounts they had improperly taken.”
     The plaintiffs seek at least $10 million in compensatory damages for breach of fiduciary duty, punitive damages, books and records, and costs.
     They are represented by Jonathan Cyrluck with Stetler & Duffy of Chicago.

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