Anheuser-Busch filed a lawsuit Friday against W. Paul Thayer, a former deputy defense secretary, two securities firms and others alleging that they defrauded the company of $80 million in an insider-trading scheme.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court here, charged that Thayer, as a director of the St. Louis company, gave inside information to friends about Anheuser-Busch's plans to acquire Dallas-based Campbell Taggart Inc. in 1982.
As a result, the suit said, Anheuser-Busch paid at least $80 million more for Campbell Taggart stock than "it would have paid without such improper and illegal activity."
Thayer, 65, and Dallas stockbroker Billy Bob Harris have pleaded guilty to lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which investigated alleged insider trading by the Dallas friends. The two are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Washington on May 8.
The government has said that Thayer and others participated in several insider-trading schemes, amassing profits of more than $3 million.
Anheuser-Busch requested repayment of profits made from any insider trading in Campbell Taggart, treble damages and $208 million in punitive and exemplary damages from the defendants.
In addition to Thayer and Harris, the suit named as defendants A. G. Edwards Inc., a St. Louis securities firm that employed Harris in its Dallas office; former New York Jets running back and Atlanta stockbroker William H. Mathis; brokerage house Bear, Stearns & Co., which employed Mathis; Gayle L. Schroder of Pearland, Tex., and Malcolm B. Davis and Doyle L. Sharp, both of Dallas.
The suit charges that Thayer attended Anheuser-Busch board meetings in June and July, 1982, during which the company's management was authorized to approach Campbell Taggart about a merger. Thayer passed the information on to Harris and Thayer's girlfriend, Sandra K. Ryno, according to the suit. Harris then purchased for himself, Ryno and other friends a total of more than 172,000 shares of Campbell Taggart common stock at prices between $24 and $30 per share, the suit alleged.