7-Up vs. Coke, Part 1: From dot-com darling to disaster, the spectacular flameout of Andrew Gladney. Heir to a fortune, Andrew Gladney went from John Burroughs to Yale and came home to found Savvis Inc. Then he squandered it all.

"Though the boundaries of the chase are defined, the pleasures in the pursuit are immeasurable." —A.G.
Epigraph on Andrew Graves Gladney's senior page in the 1980 John Burroughs School yearbook

By last December, Andrew Gladney's losses were piling up: his fancy cars and St. Louis Racquet Club membership, old Yale friendships and custody rights to his sons, aged six and twelve. Gladney hadn't worked in seven years, and the downtown building he'd envisioned making over with million-dollar condos sat mostly vacant and in a shambles.

A veteran of two tours through drug rehab, the former fitness addict had lost weight. His limp, sandy hair, golden in boyhood, was shaggy and ungroomed. When he spoke, it was hard to make out what he was saying.

Jennifer Silverberg
Class of 1980: Gladney's senior photo in the John Burroughs School yearbook.
Jennifer Silverberg
Class of 1980: Gladney's senior photo in the John Burroughs School yearbook.

To many it seemed as though the Clayton native — part owner of Mosaic restaurant, co-founder of Savvis and an heir to the 7-Up soft-drink fortune — was also down to his last dime.

In December the deck stacked against him grew even higher.

On December 3, in the latest chapter of their rancorous divorce, Gladney's ex-wife sought to hold him in contempt of court for failing to pay her $7,700 in back child support.

Two days later he ran a red light at the intersection of Bellefontaine and Dunn roads and smashed his Porsche SUV into a westbound Ford Taurus. When police arrived a little before 1 p.m., they found an apologetic Gladney, penniless but smartly dressed head to toe in brown. "Cashmere," a police report noted.

Gladney's license had been suspended in June; he was also driving without insurance. Three arrest warrants for other traffic violations were outstanding, plus a civil order holding him in contempt of court and requiring that he be immediately placed under arrest.

After an ambulance took the crash victim to Christian Hospital, St. Louis County police took Gladney into custody. The next day, having posted bond for each of the four infractions, he was released.

It was around this time that Frank Gladney got a call from his half-brother. A professor of Slavic languages at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Frank hadn't heard from Andrew in years. He says his brother politely requested a loan, and he turned him down.

On December 7, Andrew Gladney displayed what St. Louis Circuit Court Judge John Garvey would later describe as "disturbing" behavior as he testified in a case involving his business partner, Mosaic chef-owner Claus Schmitz. Gladney's company, Downtown North Development Group, and Mosaic were suing one another. Gladney was seeking to collect unpaid rent; Schmitz claimed, among other allegations, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and negligence. Schmitz also wanted Downtown North, which owns a 15 percent stake in Mosaic, to indemnify him against costs associated with a federal sex-harassment lawsuit against the restaurant.

In the harassment case, which centers on repeated inappropriate and graphic come-ons made to two bartenders, Gladney is not named as a defendant.

But he's the alleged perpetrator.

On December 10, Gladney failed to appear in the courtroom of St. Louis County Circuit Judge John Ross, who had issued the aforementioned contempt-of-court order in a case involving an outstanding debt of more than $300,000. This time Ross called for Gladney's arrest and tacked on a $25,000 cash-only bond.

As it turned out, an FBI investigation would trump the judge's order. On December 14, not long after the lunch hour, federal agents and local police descended on Gladney's Clayton townhome, conducted an eight-hour search of the premises and took Gladney into custody.

A law enforcement source, who is familiar with the case and spoke on the condition that his name not be published, says federal agents encountered Gladney lounging in ripped jeans and a dirty shirt. The source describes Gladney as indignant, "unintelligible, gesturing and grunting, like an animal."

On December 20 the U.S. Attorney's Office indicted Gladney on federal extortion charges. The following day U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Ann Medler declared the defendant a flight risk and a "significant danger to the community" and agreed with prosecutors' request that he be locked up until trial.

And so it was that on December 21, 45-year-old Andrew Gladney lost one of his few remaining privileges: his freedom.

A shiny brass "G" festoons the mailbox outside Andrew Gladney's three-story townhouse at 329 North Central Avenue. A short walk away from Clayton's public library, the property was purchased for $825,000 in 2002 and is technically owned by Gladney's trust fund. Suspended above the bright red front door is a curious accoutrement for this quiet residential enclave just north of Clayton's tidy center: a surveillance camera.

On this cold Tuesday night in January, the trill of high-pitched giggles can be heard through the door. Inside, 38-year-old Susan Wu is on the phone with her husband, who for the past several weeks has called the jail at the Jennings Police Department home.

The government's case against Andrew Gladney, though, is no laughing matter.

According to court documents, between March and November of last year, Gladney sent a series of "threatening and extortionate" e-mails and phone messages to an unnamed acquaintance in Virginia, identified in court papers as "John Doe." "I will beat your fucking ass into a six month ICU party," Gladney allegedly wrote. "I will beat your ass into a Bagdad [sic] style pulp."

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