The house at 240 Library Place is for sale for $3.5 million, listed by
N.T. Callaway, but someone may get it for a lower price at the
sheriff’s sale this Wednesday, January 12, at 2 p.m. Bids will start
at just over $1 million for the 17-room house, recently renovated by
Jerry Ford. It has seven bedrooms, 7.5 baths, a 35-foot living room,
two solariums, a pool, and a two-story luxury cabana with a Lalique
glass-paneled staircase, and it sits on an acre of land in Princeton’s
expensive Western section.
The owners, John and Pamela Torkelsen (who are in litigation with the
federal government on charges of civil fraud), had listed it in 2003
for $4.5 million. William Crenshaw of the firm Powell Goldstein LLP in
Washington, one of John Torkelsen’s attorneys, declined any comment on
his clients’ financial and legal difficulties that precipitated the
sale. The sale has already been postponed once.
At one point Torkelsen had 47 people in an office at 5 Vaughn Drive
plus an office in San Diego, and his Library Place home was showcased
at charity events. His valuation firm, Princeton Venture Research,
provided valuations and appraisals of both public and private
companies, primarily for the financing of small technology companies.
He was often called as an expert damage witness for shareholder
class-action suits. He gave lavish parties at which stars like Little
Richard and Aretha Franklin entertained.
Torkelsen also had a venture capital fund, Acorn Technology, for
start-up and early stage companies particularly in Internet-based
technologies, and he had funded at least three Princeton firms –
Mikros Systems Corp., Princeton Video Image, and VeriVoice. All
suffered severe reverses when the stock market declined.
In January, 2003, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia filed a
civil fraud lawsuit against Acorn Technology Partners, which had
achieved the status of a Small Business Investment Corporation or
SBIC. Under this arrangement the federal government matches venture
capital investments on a two-for-one basis. In return the SBICs are
supposed to follow strict conflict of interest rules restricting their
officers and employees from serving as officers of businesses that
receive the federal monies.
The 2003 civil complaint alleged that the defendants "engaged in a
scheme fraudulently to obtain and misapply $32 million in government
funds through the use of several corporations which they controlled,
and to funnel at least some of these ill-gotten funds to themselves."
The complaint alleged that the partners did not follow the SBIC
conflict of interest rules with regard to two companies – SemiSystems
and TyreLynx – and that another Torkelsen firm, Princeton Technology,
fraudulently inflated its bills to SemiSystems.
"At all times since the formation of Acorn, Torkelsen directly or
indirectly controlled the affairs and operations of SemiSystems as
well as Acorn. He used his dual control to carry out precisely the
kind of self-dealing that the conflict-of-interest regulations were
designed to prevent. Specifically, Torkelsen and other defendants used
SemiSystems as a conduit to channel funds from Acorn back to the
Torkelsen family," the complaint said.
The 7,274-square-foot house is assessed at more than $1.7 million, but
homes in Princeton typically sell for twice the assessment.
Out of Business
One of Princeton’s oldest multimedia companies, Interact Multimedia,
filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 13. "It was a good almost
11 years," says Jeff DiBartolo, "and I want to thank the people who
worked for me and the clients we had." His employees have found other
jobs. "I didn’t miss a single payroll. I kept them as long as I could
afford to pay them," he says in a telephone interview.
DiBartolo majored in advertising design at the College of New Jersey,
Class of 1988, and opened his company in 1994, at a time when very few
companies focused on multimedia. At its peak, the company had 25
employees and 4,000 square feet.
DiBartolo credits the decline to the financial woes of major customers
and competition with outsourcing. Where to? "Anywhere but the United
States," he says. "Jobs were being awarded to companies that
outsourced their work and bid one-quarter of the price."
Meanwhile smaller firms outbid larger firms, much of the work moved
in-house to the bigger corporations, and more people earned fluency in
multimedia. Designing a website is not as difficult as it used to be,
he says: "That’s why there are more small shops and freelancers, and
more companies can bring it in house."
"The first time I thought we were starting to get in trouble was
September 11," he says. "We fought through it and were able to get new
customers, to keep the business going. But this past year, we started
to lose customers, not because of our quality of work, but because of
"My plans are to look for a position to do this on the client side,"
says DiBartolo. "I am still an entrepreneur at heart. I have over 15
years experience in web and multimedia and I am going to bring that
experience to another organization and help them."
"It was a lot of fun. It was my baby. And I would do it all over
again," he says. "My experience should not discourage anyone.
Hopefully, other agencies can find a niche and work with people who
Interact Multimedia, 1100 Cornwall Road, Suite 5,
Monmouth Junction 08852. Jeff DiBartolo, president/CEO. 732-940-6550;
fax, 732-940-6540. Home page: www.teaminteract.com
Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (IART), 311E
Enterprise Drive, Plainsboro 08536. Stuart M. Essig, president/CEO.
609-936-3600; fax, 609-799-3297. Home page: www.integra-ls.com
Integra LifeSciences Holding Corporation paid $53 million for a group
of companies, based in Lyon, France, that make specialty implants and
instruments for foot and ankle surgery. The company, Newdeal, will
keep its name and its personnel.
Integra’s flagship product, which helps repair damaged skin and soft
tissue, will coordinate well with the needs of foot and ankle
surgeons. Integra also develops and sells medical devices, implants
and biologic materials used to treat spinal, cranial and orthopedic
Ranbaxy Inc., 600 College Road East, Suite 2100,
Princeton 08540. Dipak Chattaraj, president. 609-720-9200; fax,
609-720-1155. Home page: www.ranbaxyusa.com
Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited has applied for FDA approval for three of
its anti-retrovirals drugs (ARVs) under the expedited review process
of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Its manufacturing facilities in India have been inspected recently by
U.S. FDA authorities and found to be compliant. HIV AIDS now infects
some 40 million people around the globe, and more than 20 million
individuals have succumbed to this disease.
Ranbaxy is committed to making affordable, bio-equivalent ARVs
accessible to HIV/AIDS patients throughout the world, particularly to
those who might not otherwise be able to access therapy. It expects to
complete most of its FDA filings by this March.
With 9,100 global employees, Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited is India’s
largest pharmaceutical company. Last February it marked sales of $1
billion for a 12-month period. It sells products in more than 100
countries, has factories in seven countries and operates in 34
countries, including the United States. Ranbaxy Inc., based on College
Road, is its wholly owned subsidiary. In New Jersey, Ranbaxy has more
than 200,000 square feet, including its U.S. headquarters on College
Road and a recently purchased a Nestle manufacturing facility on
"Small companies are making a significant dent in health care costs in
a subtle or less visible way," says Chuck Caprariello, vice president.
"We sell 93 products that represent eight therapeutic classes."
Vela Pharmaceuticals Inc., 820 Bear Tavern Road, Suite
300, Ewing 08618. Kevin L. Keim, president and CEO. 609-771-8660; fax,
609-771-8661. Home page: www.velapharm.com
Vela Pharmaceuticals moved forward with its therapy for the treatment
of irritable bowel syndrome when it announced positive results from a
Phase 2 clinical trial of dextofisopam. Some symptoms were relieved as
early as the second day of treatment. Dextofisopam was well tolerated
and did not cause constipation.
Vela focuses on the "re-discovery" and development of medicines
related to the nervous system, including the brain-gut axis.
Cytovance Biologics Inc., 353 Nassau Street, Princeton
08540. William Fallon, CEO. 609-683-5833; fax, 609-683-5834.
Cytovance Biologics offers a portfolio of process development services
to help biotechnology companies speed up their product development.
The services will be provided at the Cytovance’s laboratories in
Oklahoma City, where a new clinical manufacturing facility is under
John Lightholder, formerly in charge of process development at
Genzyme, will direct these services. Among them: cell culture process
development, purification process development, analytical method
development and evaluation and optimization of existing production
Cytovance was founded to address the growing global need of the
biotechnology industry for full-service biomanufacturing capacity at
the clinical and early commercial scale.
"We know first hand the critical need for integrated planning and
support services and quality manufacturing capabilities for clinical
stage protein and antibody therapeutics from our own experience as
biopharmaceutical drug developers, and we have assembled an expert
team now ready to meet those needs," says CEO William Fallon.
Medical World Communications, 8 Center Drive, Jamesburg
08831. Jack Hennessy, CEO. 609-860-8088; fax, 609-860-5903. Home page:
Medical World Communications was sold on December 16 to Ascend Media
in Overland Park, Kansas. The company did not return calls as to
whether Jack Hennessy, the founder and CEO, will stay with the firm.
It publishes magazines for doctors and pharmacists and also has an
office at 241 Forsgate Drive.
Eric O. Wildgrube, 71, on January 5. He and his wife had owned a
bakery in Princeton, and he had worked at Scanticon Hotel and
Seymour M. Bogdonoff, 84, on January 10. A founding member of
Community Without Walls, he had been chairman of the mechanical and
aerospace engineering department at Princeton University.
Gerald R. Covello Jr., 50, on January 6 in an automobile accident. He
founded a software firm, ProServices Corporation, on East State Street