Republican Candidate for Governor John Cox Paid $1.7 Million Settlement After Being Sued Over Misappropriated Funds

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox is seen in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox is seen in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox often cites his role in the financial turnaround of a Chicago potato-chip company as evidence of the sharp business mind he’d use to run California.

But there is another aspect of his relationship with the family that owned the snack company, Jays Foods, that has gotten less attention. Founder Leonard Japp Sr. and members of his family sued Cox 20 years ago alleging financial misconduct, a case that led to Cox paying a $1.7-million settlement in 1999, according to court documents obtained by the The Times. Cox denied any wrongdoing.

The plaintiffs claimed that Cox “engaged in self-dealing; charged excessive and unnecessary fees; misappropriated partnership funds; and violated the partnership agreements and Illinois law” related to their investments in a string of Midwest apartment buildings and condominiums, according to the suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Cox called it a “frivolous lawsuit” and an attempt by the plaintiffs to extract a better deal in a real estate transaction.

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