A martial arts company has filed suit against its former president, alleging he stole money from it and started his own competing business, taking with him employees and customers.

Gap Consulting Resources claims it hired defendant Tony E. Harris Jr. as president of its company. In turn for his services, Harris's company, HSL Enterprises, would receive 80 percent of the net profits gained from the martial arts business, according to the complaint filed June 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

However, Harris began to deposit money belonging to Gap Consulting Resources into his own personal account, the suit states. He also began stealing equipment, such as mats, training equipment, furniture, office equipment and inventory, from Gap Consulting Resources to use in his own competing business, the complaint says.

"Within the last two months, defendant Harris has without authority closed 3 Tigers O'Fallon and opened a competing martial arts studio within close proximity to the former location of 3 Tigers O'Fallon and transferred employees and solicited former 3 Tigers O'Fallon clients to his new studio which plaintiff Gap had no interest in," the suit states.

Harris refuses to return the money to Gap, according to the complaint.

Gap alleges breach of fiduciary duty and conversion against Harris.

In its complaint, Gap is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus the fair market value of all the assets Harris took, immediate repossession of the money Harris took, return of the missing equipment, punitive damages, interest, costs and other relief the court deems just. It also is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Harris from employing Gap employees or using Gap's money or equipment to run his business.

It will be represented by Joseph M. Kellmeyer of St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-326.

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