NTG's Tobin took company money
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NTG Press Coverage Summary
By Larry Rulison, BBJ Staff
Former Network Technologies Group Inc. CEO Michele A. Tobin took more than $400,000 from the company without permission before its collapse last July, according to a claim filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by the company's current management.
Tobin and three other NTG executives were indicted Jan. 22 by a federal grand jury in Baltimore for allegedly falsifying financial records in order to attract more than $5 million in bank loans and venture capital financing. NTG was a fast-growing Fells Point telecommunications firm with high-profile clients that included Comcast Corp., AT&T Corp. and Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
Now Interim CEO John M. Collard is alleging that Tobin diverted $449,071 from the company — some of it into her personal bank account — without the permission of the NTG board, according to documents Collard filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver Jan. 31.
Tobin, who is living outside Vail, Colo., could not be reached for comment.
The allegations are just the latest in a series of developments in the case, which began unfolding July 12 when Collard shut the company down and laid off all 125 workers after uncovering what he said were accounting irregularities. Collard was hired in early July by NTG's board of directors to manage the company after Tobin resigned from the company in late June and moved to Colorado.
Tobin, 47, filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in Denver in December, claiming more than $1 million in debts. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual can erase most of their debts and still keep some of their assets.
Collard said he filed the documents to try to force Tobin to repay the company so he could pay off creditors. Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. of Baltimore, NTG's lead secured creditor, loaned NTG more than $3.5 million. Only about $1 million of that was repaid after Collard liquidated the company in August.
Tobin was indicted late last month on 10 counts of federal bank, mail and wire fraud. Also indicted on the same charges were Victor Giordani Jr., 55, NTG's former chief operating officer; Thomas Bray, 48, NTG's former chief financial officer; and Beverly Baker, 51, the company's former controller. Each of the 10 counts carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore claims that the four conspired to falsify NTG's balance sheet by more than $2 million to make it appear the company was more profitable than it was. That enabled the company to get the bank loan from Mercantile and $1.75 million in venture capital financing from Baltimore's Abell Foundation and the Smith Whiley Co. of Hartford, Conn.
Both Baker and Giordani are scheduled to make their initial appearances before U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar this week. Neither could be reached for comment. Officials from the U.S. Attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment either.
Tobin held a garage sale in July, put her Baltimore County house up for sale, and moved to a second home in Colorado. The Baltimore County home, located in the upscale Stoneleigh neighborhood, sold in August for $430,000.
Tobin is now living in an $890,000 home in Avon, Colo., near the posh resort town of Vail. According to her bankruptcy filing, Tobin pays $3,450 a month for her mortgage. She earns $75,000 a year, working as a consultant for a Pennsylvania company and a hostess for Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa in Avon, Colo.
Federal authorities have said Tobin is expected to appear voluntarily in federal court in Baltimore early this month for her arraignment.
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