Dean Guitars’ CEO Evan Rubinson is facing a lawsuit from his mother, Pamela Keris-Rubinson, accusing him of embezzling over $420,000 from his late father’s company Thoroughbred Music Inc. Evan Rubinson has also confirmed he has departed as Dean’s president and CEO following the suit, despite the lack of an official announcement from Dean/Armadillo confirming this.
After the death of Armadillo CEO Elliot Rubinson in 2017, his widow Pamela Keris-Rubinson was appointed trustee of the Elliot Trust, and became the sole shareholder of one of Elliot’s companies Thoroughbred Music Inc.
Established by Elliot in 2011, the Elliot Trust sought to (according to the legal complaint) encourage his son Evan to become a successful entrepreneur, setting out how Thoroughbred Music Inc could financially support him in a business venture – provided Pamela thought it wise, and Evan had laid out a reasonable plan.
And so as part of delivering on this wish in her capacity as trustee, and “wanting similar opportunities for her son,” Pamela appointed Evan as an officer of Thoroughbred Music Inc. However, the suit accuses Evan of “mismanaging Thoroughbred to the detriment of the Elliott Trust,” claiming that he “made unauthorised payments to himself, and made other unauthorised disbursements from Thoroughbred’s accounts, amounting to more than $420,000.”
The suit gives a number of examples as to how the alleged embezzlement was carried out. “Defendant made disbursements from Thoroughbred’s account, identified on the accounting records as ‘landscaping’ expenses for the business,” the suit states, “despite the property not having a lawn, trees, or shrubbery. The property previously did not ever pay for
“Upon information and belief, the funds paid ‘landscaping’ were actually used for landscaping services at [Evan Rubinson’s] private residence,” it adds.
Additionally, the suit accuses Evan of making other unauthorised payments to himself, listed on Thoroughbred’s account books as “Wedding Gifts”, “Christmas Gifts”, or simply reimbursements to himself “with no supporting information.”
The suit is seeking judgement on six counts. The first is simply declaratory judgement – asking the court to establish that Pamela Keris-Rubinson is indeed “100 per cent the owner of Thoroughbred.” The remaining five counts seek judgement against Evan Rubinson, either through protective and injunctive relief for Thoroughbred and Pamela, or through damages related to his mismanagement and embezzlement.
Thoroughbred Music Inc was incorporated by Elliot Rubinson in 1978, after he founded the musical instrument retail chain of the same name in 1975. He founded Armadillo Enterprises in 1994, and purchased Dean Guitars through Armadillo in 1997. The retail chain aspect of Thoroughbred Music was then sold to Sam Ash in 1999, however, Thoroughbred Music Inc remained his and became part of the Elliot Trust left to Evan and Pamela. Evan Rubinson was appointed CEO of Dean Guitars by Elliot in 2016.
While there has been no official statement from Dean Guitars regarding this, Evan Rubinson has confirmed to Guitar.com that he is no longer the CEO of Dean/Armadillo.
He also told Guitar.com that he “vehemently and wholeheartedly” denies “every aspect” of the lawsuit.
Guitar.com has reached out to Dean Guitars, and Rubinson, for comment.
Dean Guitars is currently awaiting judgement after being found liable for both trademark infringement and counterfeiting, after a years-long legal battle with Gibson.