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Industry and war vet Charles Gitto Jr. dies at 80

By: Frank Esposito

November 2, 2012

FITCHBURG, MASS. (Nov. 2, 3:40 p.m. ET) — Longtime plastics compounding executive Charles Gitto Jr. passed away Oct. 26 at age 80.

Gitto Jr. was a native of Fitchburg who served as a U.S. Marine in the Korean War. After his military service, he earned a degree from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Gitto Jr. then worked in sales for Great American Chemical Co. and for Lynn Plastics, an early PVC compounder in Lynn, Mass. He next founded PVC compounder Abbott Industries, but sold that firm in 1979 to join his brother Samuel Gitto in launching Gary Chemical Corp. in Leominster, Mass.

Gary Chemical developed, produced and marketed PVC compounds, primarily for the footwear and wire and cable markets. Gitto sold Gary Chemical to Evode Ltd. in 1989. Evode renamed the firm AlphaGary Corp. It later was owned by Rockwood Holdings Inc., which sold it to Mexichem SAB de CV last year.

After selling Gary Chemical, Gitto owned Pace Wire and Cable in Pepperell, Mass., before re-entering the compounding market in 1990 with Gitto Corp. in Lunenburg, Mass. That business later merged with another firm to become Gitto Global Corp.

The latter years of Charles Gitto Jr.’s career were marred by a financial scandal that enveloped Gitto Global. That scandal resulted in his being indicted in 2008 on federal charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Five other Gitto Global officials — including Gitto’s son, Gary, whom Gary Chemical was named for — also were indicted. Federal officials claimed that the firm’s executives used company funds for their own personal use, eventually running up corporate debt of more than $50 million.

Gitto Global had filed for bankruptcy in 2004. At that time, an attorney for Gitto Jr. told Plastics News that Gitto wasn’t involved with the firm and that his title of chairman was only an honorary title. Gitto Jr. did own Tradex Corp., a firm that owned the building and land that housed Gitto Global. Tradex filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

In late 2010, Gitto Jr. was dismissed from the case against him because medical conditions prevented him from being able to assist in his own defense.

While in the military, Gitto Jr. won a National Defense Service Medal and three others. He later won numerous awards for his involvement in civic affairs in the Leominster area.

Gitto Jr. served on the Board of Trustees at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, N.H. He and his family also donated to fund a science lab and study room at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.