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Family fights over bakery fortune

Poor estate planning can lead to acrimony among relatives. A legal battle over the fortune of a deceased Baltimore bakery magnate involves allegations that cash was stolen from an office safe and safety deposit box, use of phony trusts, bad seafood and arguments in restaurants.

John Paterakis built a bakery empire that supplied McDonalds and other major corporations. He died when he was 87-years-old in Oct. 2016.

His second wife is Roula Paterakis who he married in 2015 and lived with since 2001. She filed a lawsuit seeking a rightful share of his estate and named his six children from his first marriage, a grandchild and a restaurant owner, a corporate general counsel and his former business associate as defendants. The suit claims that they took millions of dollars in cash from his office safe and other places.

She alleged that her deceased husband was worth $1 billion although a newspaper estimated that his

worth was $240 million in 2010. She claimed that millions of dollars was kept in cash and two of the children stole cash from his safety deposit box and other places and took his checkbooks when her husband was hospitalized for eating bad oysters.

This money was allegedly channeled into phony trusts. According to her suit, the defendants had an irrevocable trust where they transferred almost $23 million of his assets.

The suit also claims that his children developed ill will toward her after her marriage. Specific allegations name his grandson who allegedly told false stories about her to break up their marriage. The complaint describes arguments in two restaurants where the grandson tells his grandfather to leave his second wife and the grandfather called him profane names.

In addition, she claimed that the defendants hired a lawyer who nominally represented her husband but worked with his children. Other defendants also prepared a false and fraudulent inventory of his estate in Baltimore County's Orphan Court which amounted to $116,867 and later changed it to $155,355, according to the lawsuit. She alleged that this did not include various hoards of cash, checking and banking accounts, trust assets and his bakery and development interests.

An attorney can help assure that the disputes are avoided through proper planning and drafting of legal documents. A lawyer can also help family members resolve these issues.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Family feud over estate of bakery magnate, Harbor East developer Paterakis," By Jean Marbella, Nov. 13, 2017

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