Ex-AeroSat CEO sues over 2011 firing


Published:

AeroSat Corp., an Amherst-based company that makes antennas used in commercial aircraft to allow passengers to connect to the Internet and watch TV, fired its founder Michael Barrett last year and owes him at least $660,000, Barrett claims in a U.S. District Court suit that names the company and two board members, one of whom was once a top aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig Jr.

Barrett, a resident of Temple, would not give the reason for the termination, but it was immediate and "without cause," triggering a two-year severance of more than $400,000. AeroSat also owes Barrett about 2-1/2 years of back pay totaling about $260,000, as well as the right to exercise his stock options - worth more than 3 percent of the company - and two years of health insurance premiums, the suit claims.

The suit, filed Sept. 27 in Concord, names AeroSat's chairman, David Rowe of Florida, and board member Sherwood "Woody" Goldberg, who allegedly controls financial decisions at AeroSat, including, Barrett's employment, wages and benefits, the suit says.

Rowe, according to the AeroSat website, is co-founder of AeroEquity, a Georgia-based private investment firm that helped with $14 million in financing in 2008, which allowed the company to expand. (Although the suit names Rowe as the AeroSat board chairman, the company's current website attributes that title both to him as well as Nim Evatt - like Rowe, a former executive at GE Aviation.)Goldberg, a Vietnam War veteran, served Haig as chief of staff when Haig was secretary of state in 1981 and 1982 under President Reagan. After Haig resigned, Goldberg was manager of Haig's international advisory firm, Worldwide Associates.

He currently serves as senior adviser for Asian affairs at the Center for Naval Analyses.

According to the suit, AeroSat-NH was founded in 1994, though according to various postings by Barrett, he founded the company in 1997. In any case, the New Hampshire corporation merged in 2006 with the newly formed AeroSat Corp. in Delaware, though it still continued to conduct business out of a building along Route 101A in Amherst.

As part of the merger, Barrett signed an employment agreement that gave him the aforementioned severance tied to an annual base salary of $180,000, according to the suit.

While AeroSat is not a publicly traded company, it does have to occasionally file documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosing the sale of stock.

Barrett was listed as an executive on a 2009 offering for $5 million of stock, and in a later offering of $1 million offering was listed as a director. (In those filings, Richard Swett, a former U.S. congressman from New Hampshire was listed as a board member, but he is not listed as such on the website.)In October 2011, four months after Barrett was allegedly terminated, the company issued a press release naming Dennis Ferguson as the company's new CEO. Barrett is not mentioned in that release.

AeroSat referred inquiries - about the suit, and for general information about the company -- to its Boston attorney, Eric Gyllenborg, who declined comment.

Messages for Barrett, Rowe and Goldberg were not returned by NHBR deadline.

AeroSat Corp., an Amherst-based company that makes antennas used in commercial aircraft to allow passengers to connect to the Internet and watch TV, fired its founder Michael Barrett last year and owes him at least $660,000, Barrett claims in a U.S. District Court suit that names the company and two board members, one of whom was once a top aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig Jr.

Barrett, a resident of Temple, would not give the reason for the termination, but it was immediate and "without cause," triggering a two-year severance of more than $400,000. AeroSat also owes Barrett about 2-1/2 years of back pay totaling about $260,000, as well as the right to exercise his stock options - worth more than 3 percent of the company - and two years of health insurance premiums, the suit claims.

The suit, filed Sept. 27 in Concord, names AeroSat's chairman, David Rowe of Florida, and board member Sherwood "Woody" Goldberg, who allegedly controls financial decisions at AeroSat, including, Barrett's employment, wages and benefits, the suit says.

Rowe, according to the AeroSat website, is co-founder of AeroEquity, a Georgia-based private investment firm that helped with $14 million in financing in 2008, which allowed the company to expand. (Although the suit names Rowe as the AeroSat board chairman, the company's current website attributes that title both to him as well as Nim Evatt - like Rowe, a former executive at GE Aviation.)Goldberg, a Vietnam War veteran, served Haig as chief of staff when Haig was secretary of state in 1981 and 1982 under President Reagan. After Haig resigned, Goldberg was manager of Haig's international advisory firm, Worldwide Associates.

He currently serves as senior adviser for Asian affairs at the Center for Naval Analyses.

According to the suit, AeroSat-NH was founded in 1994, though according to various postings by Barrett, he founded the company in 1997. In any case, the New Hampshire corporation merged in 2006 with the newly formed AeroSat Corp. in Delaware, though it still continued to conduct business out of a building along Route 101A in Amherst.

As part of the merger, Barrett signed an employment agreement that gave him the aforementioned severance tied to an annual base salary of $180,000, according to the suit.

While AeroSat is not a publicly traded company, it does have to occasionally file documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosing the sale of stock.

Barrett was listed as an executive on a 2009 offering for $5 million of stock, and in a later offering of $1 million offering was listed as a director. (In those filings, Richard Swett, a former U.S. congressman from New Hampshire was listed as a board member, but he is not listed as such on the website.)In October 2011, four months after Barrett was allegedly terminated, the company issued a press release naming Dennis Ferguson as the company's new CEO. Barrett is not mentioned in that release.

AeroSat referred inquiries - about the suit, and for general information about the company -- to its Boston attorney, Eric Gyllenborg, who declined comment.

Messages for Barrett, Rowe and Goldberg were not returned by NHBR deadline.

Edit ModuleShow Tags