After admitting he looted his own failing company to the tune of more than $500,000 to start fresh in Iowa five years ago, former Republic Windows & Doors CEO Richard Gillman turned to face a few of the 200 employees he once left without jobs or severance.
“I’d like to just look at the folks that are here, and first say, I’m sorry,” said Gillman, 60. “And I really genuinely mean that.”
Dressed in a blue shirt, jeans and sneakers and wearing glasses, Gillman said he never meant to harm any of them, but that it was time to move on. And then Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson sentenced him Thursday to four years in prison and handed down a $100,000 fine.
The sentence was part of a plea deal Gillman’s attorney worked out with prosecutors in exchange for Gillman’s plea of guilty to one count of theft. Another 51 counts against him were dropped.
The former employees who attended the hearing — and who showed little reaction during Gillman’s apology — said they were satisfied with the sentence. They included Ricky Maclin , who worked for Republic for eight years.
“Just knowing that he’s going to be in prison tonight, I will sleep better,” Maclin said.
Republic ’s shutdown created national headlines when workers staged a sit-in at its Goose Island factory in December 2008 to protest the denial of severance pay. Prosecutors have said Gillman predicted the company’s demise and masterminded a scheme to bankrupt it.
Assistant State’s Attorney John Mahoney told the judge Thursday that Gillman began to “cherry-pick” Republic assets and move them to Iowa and to the “Chicago office” of the new company he was setting up. In all, Mahoney said, the assets Gillman stole from the company exceeded $500,000 in value.
Gillman had also been accused of destroying documents, creating phony receivables and engaging in computer “hacking.” But his attorney, Ed Genson, said Gillman was a victim of the times. The company closed in the middle of the great national recession, and Genson said it was already underwater when Gillman bought it.
“Instead of trying to save a company that he had put all his money in, it turned out that the company wasn’t saved,” Genson said. “There were mistakes made. He pled guilty today and acknowledged the mistakes. I respect his decision, and hopefully we can all go on.”