Bosque Farms Mayor Roger Baldwin recently filed a civil lawsuit, claiming his former general manager stole trade secrets from his cabinet-manufacturing business after it was destroyed by a fire.
Baldwin alleges that Anthony Perno, who now owns Casework Technologies Ltd. (C-Tec) in Albuquerque, and others “removed contracts, plans and specifications, financial information, design information … and other trade secrets of Value Rite for their own use and benefit.”
Perno said he didn’t want to comment on the lawsuit until after his attorney filed a response in court.
“I’ve seen the lawsuit, but I haven’t yet responded to it,” Perno said. “It would be inappropriate for me comment on it right now. My attorney has it under review, and we still haven’t filed an answer in court.”
According to the lawsuit, Value Rite had about $1.8 million worth of contracts to fulfill after the business was destroyed by a fire on Feb. 10, 2001. Baldwin claims Perno had plans to open his own manufacturing company before the fire.
Baldwin claims that, after opening C-Tec, Perno pursued contracts that Value Rite had previously secured. The lawsuit alleges Perno furnished information to an attorney working for Fireman’s Fund Insurance, which was investigating the cause of the fire.
“Perno and others supplied said information in an attempt to frustrate the payment of said claims to prevent Value Rite and Baldwin from continuing business that would enable Perno, C-Tec and others to take over the existing contracts and profit,” the lawsuit claims.
Baldwin claims that, as a result of Perno’s actions, the insurance claim was delayed, causing Value Rite to lay off all its employees and close down the business.
The mayor also alleges that he and his wife, Kelly, lost personal income due to Perno’s actions and have had to pay $200,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs in this case.
According to the lawsuit, Baldwin asserts Perno intentionally breached his duty of loyalty to Value Rite.
“Perno, C-Tec and others intentionally designed a plan to force Value Rite and Baldwin out of business by contributing false information and other misappropriated records to those conducting investigations into the stated fire,” the lawsuit said. “The aforementioned plan was intended to cause harm to Value Rite and Baldwin by forcing them out of business so they could take over ongoing projects that Value Rite had contracted for.”
Baldwin is suing for lost profits and punitive damages.
State Police are still investigating the causes of the fire. Officers have executed search warrants at the manufacturing plant, Baldwin’s home and at Bosque Farms Village Hall.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.