IBJNews

Suit: Menard pressured Tomisue Hilbert for sexual favors

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In an explosive new lawsuit, Tomisue Hilbert has accused hardware store owner John Menard Jr. of pressuring her to have sex with him.

Her refusal, she claims, is the real reason Menard launched a bitter battle to remove her husband, Steve Hilbert, as CEO of the Indianapolis-based private-equity funds the three of them started in 2005.

Menard won a preliminary injunction in a Wisconsin court on Feb. 19, removing Steve Hilbert as CEO of the MH Private Equity funds. Menard and his team have since fired at least four employees of the main company managed by the fund, put another company into bankruptcy liquidation, and initiated a raft of lawsuits against friends of the Hilberts who had some connection to the MH Private Equity companies.

rop-aphilbert-061713-15col.jpg Tomisue and Steve Hilbert, seen here at a 2003 Indiana Pacers game, say their friends and family at New Sunshine LLC were targeted and fired by John Menard. (AP photo)

The rift between Menard, 73, and the Hilberts is a stunning change after nearly two decades of friendship. Their close relationship had spawned multiple business deals, even before the 2005 formation of MH Private Equity, but is now producing nothing but legal strife.

MH Private Equity spent $495 million of Menard’s money on eight investments, and the Hilberts were paid management fees based on the purchase price of the investments.

But in August 2011, Menard claimed MH Equity’s holdings—which include a now-bankrupt coupon firm and a company that makes skin-care lotions—had lost 70 percent of their value. Menard refused to pay the Hilberts as much in management fees as they claimed they were owed.

That change of attitude from Menard came after nearly three months of rebuffed requests for sex with Tomisue Hilbert, according to her lawsuit, filed May 29 in Hamilton Superior Court.

The suit alleges that Menard’s first request for sex came at the Hilberts’ home on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, which the Menards had visited numerous times. During a stay in May 2011, Tomisue Hilbert claims, John Menard touched her several times “despite her obvious reluctance.”

“On May 30, 2011, Mr. Menard demanded that Mrs. Hilbert join both him and his wife for sex after her husband (Steve Hilbert) went to bed,” the lawsuit claims. “Mr. Menard further told Mrs. Hilbert that if she refused there would be serious ‘financial consequences.’”

Steve Hilbert, 67, initially chalked up Menard’s advances to his being drunk that night, according to the lawsuit. But it alleges Menard repeated his request for sex the next day and in a phone call with Tomisue Hilbert on July 12, 2011.

Tomisue Hilbert, 43, also claims that on two other occasions, Menard’s wife, Fay, encouraged Tomisue Hilbert to visit the Menards’ homes so they could “carry over from St. Martin.”

Kevin Tyra, an Indianapolis attorney representing Menard, said his client "categorically denies the inappropriate conduct that Mrs. Hilbert alleges in her complaint.

"It’s because the Hilberts were such poor stewards of what was entrusted to them that a judge had to remove them," he added. "Mrs. Hilbert’s complaint appears to be a reaction Mr. Menard’s justified actions."

However, Indianapolis attorney Linda Pence, who is representing Tomisue Hilbert, described Menard as a bully who needs to be stopped.

“He has a well-documented history of bullying other people, particularly women,” Pence said. “His behavior is degrading to women.”

In Trump’s crosshairs

Once Menard took full control of the MH Private Equity companies, he quickly made his presence felt.

On March 1, Menard visited the Indianapolis headquarters of New Sunshine LLC, a skin-care products company owned by MH Private Equity, according to Tomisue Hilbert’s lawsuit. Menard fired Eric Weber, the president of New Sunshine; Scott Matthews, who had been senior vice president of New Sunshine; and Todd Hilbert, the son of Steve Hilbert, who had also been working for New Sunshine.

John Menard Menard

Three days later, the suit alleges, New Sunshine’s subsidiary Australian Gold LLC fired Lisa Trudeau, wife of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau. The Trudeaus are friends of the Hilberts.

That same day, Australian Gold filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County claiming Trudeau should pay back five years of wages and expense reimbursements for failing to act in the company’s “best interests” and for claiming invalid expenses for reimbursement. The lawsuit seeks a total of $1.5 million in damages.

Also on March 4, New Sunshine and Australian Gold sued Trent Decatur, son of the late Dr. David Decatur, a longtime Hilbert friend. Trent Decatur had been paid by New Sunshine to develop sales channels in Asia, but the Menard team claimed Decatur didn’t actually do any work. They want him to reimburse New Sunshine for the fees he was paid.

On March 12, another MH Private Equity company, Michigan-based coupon firm Entertainment Publications LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

On March 13, New Sunshine sent a letter to Melania Trump, wife of real estate investor Donald Trump, canceling a promotional deal for the launch of a new Melania Trump-branded skin-care product. Trump, a former model, filed a lawsuit with an arbitrator, claiming New Sunshine’s actions had resulted in $50 million in damages.

Melania Trump had been scheduled to promote the product line on an April 7 appearance on Donald Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice,” as well as on “The Today Show” and “The View” in the following days. The canceled contract meant she did not have any product samples to help her promotion, her lawsuit states.

The cancellation even scotched a $100,000 initial order from high-end retailer Lord & Taylor, Trump’s lawsuit claims.

hilbert-menard-timeline.gif“Incredibly, although the Licensed Products are ready to be shipped to Lord & Taylor and television audiences as part of the production, [New Sunshine] refused to ship the Licensed Products because it will trigger certain payments under the License Agreements,” Trump’s suit states, indicating that she would have been paid $750,000 in April after the first shipment of products.

The Menard team has since filed a lawsuit in Marion County, claiming that because the contract with Melania Trump was signed while Steve Hilbert still managed MH Private Equity and New Sunshine, the contract is void. The Menard team claims it sent a letter to Hilbert in June 2012 removing him as CEO of MH Equity, but that Hilbert refused to leave until the Wisconsin judge acted in February.

They also note that the deal was structured with an improper favor for Hilbert: up to $50,000 worth of the skin-care products to use as gifts for friends and family.

Menard: Hilbert was self-dealing

In contrast to Tomisue Hilbert’s explanations, Menard claims he turned on Steve Hilbert only when he discovered Hilbert was enriching himself while the value of MH Equity’s businesses plummeted.

In an amended complaint filed in Wisconsin last month, the Menard team claimed Hilbert improperly transferred $3.7 million in August 2012 from MH Equity’s account into one of his own accounts.

“Hilbert refused to put down his pencil because he still had a few more checks to write—to himself,” wrote attorneys for Menard in the court filing. “Hilbert opposed the injunction because if it were granted, the house of cards would collapse. Now it has.”

Hilbert’s attorneys have countered that Hilbert never paid himself anything not clearly called for in the MH Equity operating agreement. In fact, Hilbert’s attorneys claim Menard still owes $5.75 million in unpaid management fees.

If anyone is costing Menard money, the Hilbert attorneys argue, it’s Menard himself—which indicates to them that Menard is acting out of personal motivations, not financial ones.

Tomisue Hilbert’s lawsuit notes that New Sunshine, which employs about 275 people in Indianapolis, has been recovering after its profits were hit hard during the recession in 2009.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell from $25 million in 2008 to just $5.5 million in 2010, the lawsuit states. But they have been rising since, totaling $14.4 million last year, and are projected to reach $16 million this year.

“With the improvement of the economy and the expansion of the new brands within the beauty industry, greater world-wide distribution, and other changes implemented by Mr. Hilbert, New Sunshine was expected to recover over the next three years,” the lawsuit claims.

Before Menard’s alleged sexual advances started, it asserts, “Mr. Menard was not concerned about [MH] Equity Fund and recognized it was recovering.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Decatur Lawsuit
    Decatur ran this poor guy into bankruptcy. Here's the legal decision. The judge calls Decatur "Loopy" LOL! Decatur commits fraud! He has a pattern going on here. He receives a bunch of money, does nothing, and tries to blame everyone else for his utter lack of talent. Check this out: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1055118.html Someone needs to put this psycho away.
  • Right!
    It didn't soar because of one guy.... Trent Decatur! A fraud from the word GO! IMO
  • Finally... Justice For Trent Decatur!
    This guy has been a fraud his whole life. Screwing people seems to be his M.O. So glad he got sued. Hopefully he'll continue to get sued by others he has taken advantage of. Get'em Trump!
  • genius
    Could not have said it better myself. This is the only comment necessary regarding this story.
  • Used to $ for work!
    Coming from her background,she should be used to those kinds of advances! Menard probably figured it was ok to tuck a buck!
    • With His Money He Could Arrange Something Better
      Why would John Menard want to have relations with an Italian dessert? Hey, I like ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese and flavored with cocoa as much as the next guy, but all I want to do is eat it. Isn't it fun when billionaires get to fussin'?
    • Menard
      dont forget to add john Menard, he's such a man of character too
    • Tomisue
      With the way this lovely couple met, it's amazing their business failed. I mean, I'm young and easy going but I wouldn't trust her or him as far as I could throw them
    • the band plays on....
      these people sure do have a lot drama in their lives ........
    • Dancing bears down there
      Lisa Trudeau, Stephen Hilbert, Tomisue, Todd Hilbert and Trent Decatur. I cannot believe this thing didn't soar. That is a stellar cast of characters.

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      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
      ADVERTISEMENT

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
       
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

      2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

      3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

      4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

      5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

      ADVERTISEMENT