Keeping Feud Quiet Is Tricky for Billionaire

     ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – Heavy-hitting law firm Barclay Damon wants to keep a lid on a trespassing incident at a dairy plant involving men with ties to the billionaire Greek family that founded the Cumberland Farms convenience store chain.
     Demetrios Haseotes claims in an affidavit in Albany County Supreme Court that his uncle, George Haseotes, entered the plant without permission in November and harassed workers, causing two to quit.
     “In particular, he attempted to countermand my instructions to plaintiff’s employees, [and] became abusive to the employees,” Demetrios Haseotes says.
     Demetrios, the president of Midland Farms, says his theo‘s “conduct has caused and will continue to cause irreparable damage to plaintiff and plaintiff’s business operations.”
     Midland Farms filed a complaint against George Haseotes on Dec. 7 to block further trespass.
     The plant, located just outside Albany in suburban Menands, processes milk from local farmers into dairy products that are trucked throughout the Northeast.
     George Haseotes has no connection to Midland Farms as owner, officer, director, employee or agent, according to the affidavit.
     Both men, though, share the name of the family that founded Cumberland Farms, a Massachusetts-based convenience-store chain with 600 sites in eight states. The family also owns the Gulf Oil brand and distributes petroleum products.
     Forbes magazine lists the Haseotes family as No. 73 on its 2015 list of America’s Richest Families, with a net worth of $3.9 billion.
     Greek immigrants Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes started the business in Rhode Island in 1939 as a one-cow dairy farm. In 1962, Cumberland Farms opened the first-ever convenience store in the Northeast, according to the company’s website.
     Cumberland Farms acquired the Northeast assets of Gulf Oil in 1986, which included 500 gas stations, 20 refined petroleum terminals and a perpetual license to the Gulf trade name.
     Demetrios Haseotes founded Midland Farms in 2002. He describes it as an independent, family-owned dairy company that processes milk in Menands and operates a wholesale distribution center in Paterson, N.J.
     Haseotes also has a petroleum holding: an oil refinery in Somerset, Ky., near Lexington, that was idled in 2010 following a bankruptcy auction two years earlier. Haseotes purchased the plant in 2011, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, and it operates today as Continental Refining Co. Haseotes is CEO, according to Continental’s website.
     Both the newspaper and The Lane Report, a business magazine in Lexington, described Haseotes in 2012 articles as an owner and past director of the Cumberland Group of Cos., which includes Cumberland Farms and Gulf Oil.
     Michael Ferdman, a partner in Barclay Damon’s Buffalo office, has not returned an email inquiring about George Haseotes and Demetrios Haseotes’ relationship to the Cumberland Farms founders.
     In a memorandum of law filed in connection with the complaint against George Haseotes, Ferdman wants the Albany County Supreme Court to seal the case records. Demetrios Haseotes made the same request in his affidavit.
     Ferdman noted that the Uniform Rules for New York State Trial Courts provides that records should not be sealed “except upon a finding of good cause,” but said George Haseotes’ conduct provided that cause.
     His conduct “has detrimentally impacted several employees of the company,” Ferdman said, and sealing the record will protect their privacy.
     “Moreover, the internal strife and disruption created by defendant’s conduct, if made public, could lead to even further disruption and damage to the company’s business,” he added.
     “In the end, this is a matter in which the public would not have a significant interest. It would be in the interest of all involved, both the parties and the innocent company employees who have been affected by defendant’s conduct, to have this matter resolved in private.”
     Barclay Damon describes itself as a super-regional law firm with 275 attorneys in 11 offices across New York and the Northeast. The firm formed over the summer with the merger of Syracuse-based Hiscock & Barclay and Buffalo’s Damon Morey.

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