John M. Ferolito, a co-founder and co-owner of the makers of Arizona Iced Tea, has filed a legal petition to dissolve the company, saying his partner is depriving him of income and trying to force him to sell his 50-percent ownership stake at a low price.
Ferolito made the legal move in Nassau County Supreme Court this week.
His partner in the company, Don Vultaggio, did not immediately respond to a voicemail request for comment Friday morning.
The company was founded in Brooklyn in the 1970s but its parent companies, Beverage Marketing USA, Inc. and Hornell Brewing Company, Inc., later set up shop in Lake Success, in Nassau County and then eventually Woodbury.
Ferolito in the court documents describes what he said was the disintegration of a business relationship that, for many years, had provided both partners tens of millions of dollars in profits each year. Ferolito says Vultaggio used his day-to-day control of the company to abruptly cut off profit sharing.
Ferolito's lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., of Manhattan, filed an affidavit with the court saying his client seeks a court order for the involuntary dissolution of Arizona Iced Tea’s parent corporations.
Ferolito's "objectively reasonable expectations of a return on his equity stake in the Corporations is being completely thwarted by the actions of Domenick Vultaggio... the shareholder who is in control of the day-to-day operations of the business," the court document says.
"Indeed, Vultaggio has unilaterally discontinued the long-standing corporate policy of distributing the annual profits of the Corporations to its shareholders in an effort to place extreme financial pressure on Ferolito such that he will be forced to sell his shares below fair market value to Vultaggio."
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