Marsh Supermarkets rests case against former CEO

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Lawyers for Don Marsh got their first chance to go on the offensive Wednesday after Marsh Supermarkets Inc. rested its case against the company’s former CEO.

The locally based grocery chain is suing Don Marsh in an attempt to recoup more than $3 million in what it alleges are personal expenses he charged to the company before Florida-based Sun Capital Partners purchased it in 2006.

Lawyers for Don Marsh called as their first witness P. Lawrence Butt, the company’s former corporate counsel.

Butt said he once traveled to Russia for a week as Don Marsh explored business opportunities there, meeting with Nadia Kovarskaya. Her name has been prevalent during the nearly two-week trial, as Don Marsh admitted to jurors that he had numerous extramarital affairs, including a tryst with Kovarskaya.

Butt, however, told jurors he was unaware of the affair and believed Don Marsh’s relationship with her was legitimate business. Kovarskaya had a consulting agreement with a Marsh Supermarkets subsidiary called Marsh Cultural, he said, and Don Marsh was exploring whether to sponsor a Russian ice ballet in the United States.

Don Marsh admitted to jurors that he visited Kovarskaya about twice a month in the year 2000 while he put her up in a New York City apartment, part of the expenses Marsh Supermarkets is trying to recover.

Earlier Wednesday, Don Marsh's son David concluded his testimony, restating his belief to jurors that the numerous trips he and others took were essential to the business of Marsh Supermarkets Inc.

David Marsh, who served as the company's president, remained adamant that the trips he took with either his family or father benefitted the company, even when presented with thousands of dollars of charges relating to a 10-day trip he and his then-wife took to Beijing in May 2005.

The charges included a $10,000 balance owed to the Young Presidents’ Organization, which was holding a conference in the Chinese city, along with airline tickets that cost $8,099 each.

Two months later, he and his father jetted to Alaska on the company plane for Marsh Supermarkets’ retreat.

“We believed it was very, very effective for the company,” David Marsh said when questioned by company lawyer David Herzog.

In 2005 alone, David Marsh took roughly 25 trips to such far-reaching destinations as Beijing, Toronto and Thailand. David Marsh contended that he or company suppliers picked up the tab for some of the travels when necessary.

David Marsh testified that he often needed the company jet—he sometimes took as many as three trips in a single month—because his time was valuable to Marsh Supermarkets.

He told jurors he gave “120 percent” to the company and often was the last person to leave the office in the evenings.

That prompted Herzog to respond, “forgive me, but you weren’t at the company very much.”

Marsh Supermarkets launched a legal fight against David in 2006 after he sued the company, alleging it shorted him $102,000 on his $2.1 million severance package. The company shot back that he had used the company “as his personal checkbook,” submitting expenses from family trips, and should have to repay more than $750,000. The parties reached a confidential settlement in 2007.

David Marsh testified for about an hour early Tuesday evening before Judge Sarah Evans Barker halted proceedings.

He said then that Marsh Supermarkets picked up the tab for a lease on a new BMW and $25,500 in financial planning services because he believed his contract with the company allowed for it.

“It’s an open-ended clause,” David Marsh said after pointing out a section in his contract that he thinks entitled him to the perks.

David Marsh said he and his father often discussed business while on hunting and fishing trips to Alaska and South Dakota. When Herzog asked why they didn't instead go to an Arby's across the street from company headquarters, David said, "It’s not the same as getting out of town."

In earlier testimony Tuesday, jurors heard from Patrick Calhoun, a former IRS special agent hired by Marsh Supermarkets to investigate Don Marsh's expenses. His job was to identify business and non-business expenses from 1999 to 2006, to determine whether they were "ordinary and necessary."

Calhoun found more than $3.3 million in expenses he said had no benefit to the company.

Here’s a sample:

—$927,210 for “nondeductible outings” that included taxidermy services and hunting licenses.

—$397,616 for professional organization costs that included trips to Young Presidents’ Organization and World Presidents’ Organization meetings.
—$625,776 for Marsh family travel expenses .

—$159,169 for “cultural” expenses that included hotel charges for Nadia Kovarskaya, the head of a Russian ice ballet with whom Don Marsh had an affair.

—$315,415 in estate planning services.

—$120,640 in nondeductible credit card expenses that included the purchase of several pairs of boots at an Alaskan store.

—$135,468 in “other” nondeductible expenses, such as gifts for weddings.

—$64,871 in daily per-diem charges that Marsh Supermarkets says Don Marsh collected while also billing expenses to the company.

—$21,500 for cash advances Don Marsh took to spend on trips to such places as Cuba, where credit cards aren’t accepted.

The trial is expected to conclude Friday.


  • What Sun Needs
    Sun Capital Partners should consider a Consumer Advisory Panel that reports directly to the Board of Directors. Set aside the belief that starting operations in Russia or Canada or places with big game hunting, was the next big wave, the current management has no idea what surfing really is, so they will miss the big wave anyway. Marsh is over priced in every department, and an average household cannot afford to keep the Marsh Jet fueled for the next big trip. I feel like "Algernon the Mouse" each time I enter a Marsh Supermarket. Whomever convinced Marsh Management that weaving up and down aisles in search of one or two product needs will create additional sales as people see more items to purchase, does not understand the value of "time and motion" for the average working man or woman. I stopped going to Marsh long ago, and seeing the waste and abuse that was allowed at the top only validates my position that Marsh Supermarkets lost their Consumer Compass long ago.
  • IRS
    Sun got stuck paying an IRS penalty for Don's "oversight" on expenses. There's been a real cost to them on this.
  • Do you have a map?
    Toronto? a far reaching place? are you kidding....perhaps Mr Herzog should look at a $5 map.......
  • Confused
    I thought Sun was trying to recover money expensed after the buyout, not before as the article reads. If the expenses occured before the buyout why does Sun care? Expenses would have been inflated and they would have presumably got a better deal. If you add back those $3MM the deal looks even better. What am I missing?
    • Better under new ownership
      I believe that Marsh is much better under the new ownership. They've always offered high-quality meats and produce and their prices are becoming more competitive. Some of stores do have a very funky layout, but most neighborhood stores are easy to navigate.
    • and expensive
      ...not to mention their prices are the highest in town. Every time i shop at Marsh i feel like i am getting gouged.
    • Justified
      This is the worst supermarket in existaaaaaance The worst layout Poor product placement poor assortment frozen meat in the fresh meat section his daliances are the least of their problems

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

      2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

      3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

      4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

      5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!