Jury to begin deliberating in Don Marsh trial

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A jury is expected to begin deliberating Friday afternoon whether Don Marsh owes Marsh Supermarkets Inc. more than $3 million in personal expenses he allegedly charged the company while he was CEO.

Closing arguments were scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, but were pushed back to 11:30 a.m. after a lengthy closed-door conference between U.S. Judge Sarah Evans Barker and attorneys representing the former chief and the locally based chain.

The company filed a civil lawsuit against Marsh in April 2009, claiming he used the company as a personal checkbook to finance global travels and trysts with mistresses. Flights on the company jet included several trips to New York City and Smyrna, Tenn., to visit two of the five mistresses that Don Marsh, 75, admitted to during the two-week trial.

The trial began Feb. 4 in federal court in Indianapolis.

His dirty laundry was aired as his wife, Marilyn, sat in the courtroom during much of the proceedings.

Marsh Supermarkets lawyers have attempted to convince the jury that Don Marsh spent $3.3 million in company money for personal entertainment with no real benefit to the business.

Don Marsh’s attorneys, on the other hand, painted the veteran CEO as a networking master who traveled the globe in hopes of bringing more business to Marsh Supermarkets.

Sun Capital Partners purchased Marsh Supermarkets in September 2006 and directed the grocery to file suit after an investigation into company finances uncovered what it considered lavish spending by the former CEO.

Central to Marsh Supermarkets’ case is a report compiled by Patrick Calhoun, a former Internal Revenue Service agent, highlighting the $3.3 million in spending.

Among the expenses listed:

—$927,210 in nondeductible outings.

—$804,141 in company plane costs.

—$625,775 in Marsh family travel.

—$397,616 in professional organization costs.

—$315,451 in professional services.

On Thursday, lawyers for Don Marsh called a veteran tax adviser as an expert witness to refute Calhoun’s report.

Wayne Hoeing, who joined Clifton Larson Allen LLP in 2010 following a 24-year career at Ernst & Young LLP, attempted to discredit the findings by claiming that Calhoun used the wrong tax code to calculate the expenses.

At one point, Jonathan Mays, a lawyer for Don Marsh, asked Hoeing whether it mattered if an annual Marsh Christmas card was sent by the family of Don Marsh or Marsh Supermarkets. Company lawyers claim Don Marsh needlessly spent Marsh Supermarkets’ money to fly family members to Indianapolis annually for a Christmas card photo.

Hoeing said it did not matter.

“I grew up watching Mr. Marsh on television commercials,” he said. “It’s not too hard to equate Mr. Marsh with Marsh Supermarkets.”

Indeed, Don Marsh was one of Indiana’s highest-profile executives for decades and frequently appeared in the company’s TV advertising.

Don Marsh’s father founded the company in 1931 and took it public in 1953. He died in 1959 in a plane crash.

The younger Marsh, a graduate of Michigan State University, became a director of the company in 1960 and rose to president in 1968. He became CEO in 1980, a title he retained until Sun Capital took the company private with its purchase in 2006.

Sun Capital began paying Marsh $4.2 million in severance but only paid half after it discovered the millions of dollars of what it considered personal expenses charged to the company. Marsh is countersuing Marsh Supermarkets in an attempt to receive his full severance.

Upon its sale, Marsh Supermarkets had $1.7 billion in annual revenue and more than 100 stores in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues