Allegheny Beverage Corp. yesterday announced that it will set aside either $5 million or $6 million as a possible settlement in a shareholder lawsuit that alleges the company's officers misled them about the firm's future.
The class-action suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore 14 months ago, alleges that Morton M. Lapides, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, and four other company officials -- Harry J. Conn, Marshall M. Meyer, Edward A. Weisman and Henry H. Weitz -- issued statements they knew were false in order to keep the Cheverly company's stock prices at artificially inflated prices while they were selling stock in 1985 and 1986.
After company officers had sold nearly $10 million of their stock, the same officers notified shareholders of conditions that adversely affected the company's earnings, thus causing the stock to drop from prices as high as $30 a share to a low of about $8.
Lapides sold the largest number of shares, 360,000, while the stock was trading above $25 for a total of more than $9 million.
Company officials and attorneys declined to comment yesterday on the progress of settlement talks but said in a release that "there is no assurance that the litigation will be settled."
Any settlement that is reached would have to be approved by the court.
Attorneys for the shareholders declined to comment on Allegheny's announcement or the settlement negotiations.
Allegheny, a diversified services company that lost $56.5 million during fiscal 1987, has sold all but one of its subsidiaries during the past year.
It is in the process of selling Service America Corp., its food-service business, for $500 million to Servam Corp.
The company said yesterday that the amount set aside for the possible shareholder suit settlement will be reflected in its Sept. 26 quarterly report.
Allegheny stock closed at $15 a share yesterday, up 37 1/2 cents, with 95,800 shares traded in the session.