One Dial employee tells New Times that she asked a colleague what was up with Joan Potter. She says the colleague put an index finger to her lips and said, "Don't say that name around here. Mr. Teets is liable to hear about it." The reference to Teets ended further discussion about the situation.
Things moved quickly after Eve Edwards died and Rad Vucichevich put Dial on notice that he knew about the stolen documents:
Joan Potter settled the dispute with her ex-husband over her bonus; she agreed to pay him $50,000.
Potter officially retired, after she inked asweetheart deal with the firm. Three sources tell New Times that Potter received a huge financial settlement uponher departure--probably about $5million.
The settlement is said tosurpass the normal"golden parachute" in place for executives of her stature and experience. (The sources include a former Dial employee with direct connections to upper management, a veteran attorney close to a key player in the case, and a current Dial employee.)
Dial's Peltier provides New Times with a different explanation ofevents surrounding Potter's retirement.
"Very simply, we've outsourced a bunch of stuff," he says. "In the process of downsizing the human-resources department, they moved [Potter's job] down from an officer level. Joan was a valued employee, and they wanted to keep her, but she got a retirement package, and I guess it was a nice enough package that she decided to leave. I don't know of any falling-out with Mr. Teets or any special deals."
Several sources close to Dial--not anyone in the Jerry Ingalls camp, incidentally--say that explanation sounds ridiculous.
"So they were going to 'un-insider' the highest-ranking woman in company history--John Teets' protegee--because they were, quote, 'downsizing' a department?" says a Phoenix corporate attorney. "I know Bill Peltier, and he's an honest, decent shlub. But who is he kidding?"
Though Peltier claims there wasn't an unusually large settlement, it is certain that Potter has been spending large sums of money since she retired. County records in Arizona show that on August 18--three weeks after she retired--Potter paid off a $78,500 loan on another Valley residence. Five days later, she paid off the remaining $200,000 or so on the Biltmore house.
On October 31, Potter paid $380,000 in cash to buy a home in Laguna Niguel, California. Orange County title records indicate she owns that home free and clear.
Jerry Ingalls has retained Scottsdale attorney Barry Hart to prepare a lawsuit on his behalf against Dial Corp and John Teets. Ingalls says it should be filed any day.
The lawsuit will attempt to delve into the events that preceded Potter's retirement--Dial's involvement in the purchase of the Biltmore house, its delaying of a lucrative bonus and stock options for Potter, and the company's acceptance of stolen property. If successful, the suit also could answer questions that have fueled the relentless gossip about Potter and Teets and led to such disparate results: Teets got his wings clipped. Potter got the multimillion-dollar settlement. Dial spokesman Peltier seems eager to tie things up and forget they ever happened.
"I've never heard of such things in my entire life," Peltier says. "It's some of the wildest stuff I've ever heard. This is a book.