PHOENIX (CN) – “Poolhall Junkies” director Mars Callahan and his business partner threatened to shoot the CEO of an online distribution company in the head after they were fired for looting corporate funds, the company claims in court.
Los Angeles-based Gawk Inc. sued Callahan and John Hermansen on Oct. 30 in Federal Court, alleging securities fraud and racketeering.
In the same complaint Gawk also sued a law firm, an attorney, an accounting firm and an accountant: Paul Mayersohn and the law office of Surpin & Mayersohn, and ElissPenn & O’Connor and accountant Michael O’Connor.
Gawk, a publicly traded company, claims its officers Callahan and Hermansen were fired in May after they “engaged in essentially the same wrongful conduct, the selling of unregistered securities through a cold-calling or telemarketing scheme.”
Gawk delivers digital content such as movies, television shows, and sporting events through a paid website.
After they were fired, Callahan and Hermansen “fabricated a $3 million contract and inserted a $1 million default provision, and threatened to put a bullet in the head of the current CEO of Gawk and also threatened the teenage son of one of Gawk’s consultants, for the purpose of extorting a favorable severance package,” the lawsuit states.
Before they were fired, Gawk says, Callahan and Hermansen paid themselves exorbitant salaries, paid Mayersohn – an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles – $80,000 for work he performed for them and not the company, and paid accounting firm EllisPenn & O’Connor for handling Callahan’s personal income tax issues.
Gawk claims Callahan and Hermansen raised $8 million to make the film “Poker Junkies” in 2011, but the film has yet to be made.
They also raised $3.3 million to make two television series – one about poker players and a series of yoga videos – but Callahan used some of the money to remodel his home and Gawk was forced to settle with the investor for $2.5 million, according to the complaint.
Gawk also claims that Callahan did not disclose to it that he had cease-and-desist orders from the SEC for failing to deliver the assets of Poker Junkies Production after it was sold for $20 million of Gawk stock, and of High Profile Distribution for $18 million of Gawk stock.
Gawk seeks punitive damages for fraud, RICO fraud, conspiracy, securities violations, breach of contract, breach of faith, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty.
It is represented by James Laganke.