Fizzled Out: Andrew Gladney, heir to the 7-Up fortune, is off to a federal penitentiary

Sep 17, 2008 at 4:00 am

Aside from the khaki jail garb and leg shackles, Andrew Gladney cut a strikingly different image in federal court the morning of September 12 than when he was arrested late last year.

When FBI agents stormed into his Clayton townhouse December 14 and hauled a belligerent Gladney into custody, his walnut-color hair hung in long, straggly strands over his gaunt, pockmarked face. For a former fitness buff, Gladney was unusually thin. (See "7-Up vs. Coke," by Kristen Hinman, February 7 and February 14, 2008.) By last week's sentencing hearing, though, the heir to the 7-Up soft-drink fortune and cofounder of Savvis had regained the sturdy, groomed look of his distinctive pedigree.

It was such a dramatic contrast that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Webber pointed it out by holding up Gladney's mug shot, moments before meting out his sentence of 33 months in a federal penitentiary on a charge of extortion with the intent to injure.

"Many times the criminal-justice system restores lives, rather than takes them away," said Webber, referring to the ten months Gladney has spent behind bars, having been denied bond three times by judges from the U.S. District Court and by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Added Judge Webber: "I've personally noticed many changes in Mr. Gladney."

Gladney, 46, faced twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the offense, apparently triggered by a bizarre lie Gladney's wife told him during drug-induced fantasizing.

The drama began in March 2007, when Susan "Jia-Jye" Wu told her husband she'd had a twenty-year incestuous affair with her brother who lives in Virginia. Wu said she and her brother even had a tryst during the weekend of her wedding to Andrew.

The revelations sent Gladney into a fit of rage, spurring him to dispatch a series of threatening e-mails and phone messages to his brother-in-law between March and November of last year.

On March 29, 2007, Gladney wrote this e-mail to his brother-in-law: "You better have $10,000 deposited in Jia-Jye's account by the end of the day, and $15,000 by the end of Friday. If you don't have it, to [sic] fucking bad! Borrow it, Mr. Harvard Sisterfucker...!"

Gladney went on to demand "a total of $25 Grand by close of business Friday, or the videotaped interview that I shot of Jia-Jye confessing to the affair and adding to the specifics in grim, grim detail, from 1986/1987, until 2006, at the motel in St. Louis will be copied and distributed to as many people as I can get it to in the CDC, Drexel Hospital, Punahoe School, Penn, etc. The first to get the news and the first tape copy will be your parents, and all of your family."

In a subsequent message, Gladney added: "By the way, lest you think that any of this is illegal — it is not. It's only extortion if the 'act' being covered up is a crime, not a sick double life."

In all, court records show, Gladney ordered his brother-in-law to wire him more than $100,000.

According to court papers, Gladney's in-laws were so terrorized by his advances that they installed a security system, while Gladney and his wife flaunted their invincibility. In a May 10, 2007, e-mail to her brother, Wu stated, "[Andrew] has power and force in place [sic] that are so far reaching, it should make any person who know [sic] his true capabilities and is in sound mind/living in this country TREMBLE IN FEAR."

But there was no incest, no twenty-year affair between siblings: Wu had made it all up.

"They were drug-induced fantasies," theorizes defense attorney Scott Rosenblum.

In May, Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus dropped two additional charges against Gladney in exchange for his guilty plea. At the request of Rosenblum and fellow defense attorney Adam Fein, Marcus also agreed not to indict Gladney for obscenity crimes.

Despite the positive changes in Gladney, Judge Webber declared at sentencing, "There is a need to protect the public from him."

In addition to the prison term, Webber doled out two years of probation and drug counseling. It is not yet known to which federal pen Gladney will report. He will receive credit for the time already served.

Gladney was not fined or ordered to pay restitution. Fein, the defense attorney, had told the court that Gladney is "almost destitute." He has not worked for several years and no longer enjoys the trust fund once available to him.

Gladney remained composed as Webber delivered the judgment, repeatedly turning around in what appeared to be attempts to console his beloved wife. Sitting in the front row, Susan Wu rocked back and forth on her seat, head in her hands, weeping.

By most accounts, Andrew Gladney once had the world within reach. His family's vast wealth, mostly resulting from the 1978 sale of 7-Up to Philip Morris for a reported $500 million, opened many doors for the Clayton native. He attended prestigious schools: John Burroughs, Yale University and the Stern School (of business) at New York University. In 1995, Gladney financed an Internet startup that would later become the publicly traded corporation, Savvis.

But Gladney never found his professional niche. His ownership stake in Savvis dwindled progressively; in 1999, the firm fired him. He started another Internet company devoted to broadband sports content, but that venture failed before it got off the ground.

In June 2004, Gladney and a business partner purchased the Hadley-Dean Glass building downtown, with development plans for an eatery and million-dollar condos. The popular Mosaic restaurant succeeded in the building's ground level, but the rest of the Hadley-Dean has languished. Gladney and his partner dissolved their venture. The LLC that acquired the building, which Gladney controlled, has since declared bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Gladney and his former Mosaic partner, Claus Schmitz, are embroiled in a court battle stemming from a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Mosaic in U.S. District Court for damages owing to Gladney's alleged drug-fueled sexual advances toward two female bartenders. Schmitz settled the lawsuit in July 2008 and agreed to pay $64,000 to his former employees.

Drugs have played a recurring role in many of Gladney's troubles.

In 2001, Gladney was arrested on charges of first-degree assault and forcible sodomy after an alleged cocaine-driven sexcapade that began one spring afternoon at his then-office in Brentwood and ended in Room 1415 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. The case was later dropped by prosecutors due to witness credibility problems, according to court records.

Gladney in 2001 also received three years' probation and a suspended sentence for distribution of a controlled substance after passing a $50 bill laced with cocaine to a waitress at the since-shuttered T.G.I. Friday's in Brentwood, according to court documents and testimony. Other records show Gladney is a veteran of at least two tours through drug rehab.

Gladney's addiction to crack and cocaine loomed large during his sentencing for extortion, as did his taste for out-of-the-ordinary sexual scenarios.

In court filings and testimony, Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus argued that Gladney deserved more than three years in prison due to the alleged 2001 incident at the Ritz, and owing to the fact that, during a search of Gladney's townhouse, FBI agents found his sons' bedrooms "littered with pornography and sexual devices."

Marcus said the FBI seized crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia. The prosecutor also cited animated DVDs and cartoon images that appeared to contain child pornography.

Finally, Marcus pointed to an e-mail Gladney sent to one "Tracy Tapper," a Las Vegas phone-sex operator, stating: "It isn't illegal, to talk about, or even plan to do, anything, in the context of phone sex. Murder, torture, rape, pedofillia [sic]. It's all legal as can be to discuss. We are leaving [sic] phone fantasies, girl I am sure yo [sic] know that they are not prosecutable, in other words: we're free to talk about any twisted thing we want in this great country, as [sic] as we don't do it, even assassinate government officials."

Defense attorney Adam Fein argued that Marcus' claims were unrelated to the extortion charge and therefore irrelevant.

Drug abuse and deep psychological wounds revealed through recent counseling sessions were to blame for Gladney's behavior, Fein said.

Jean Caine, a Clayton therapist who saw Gladney for eleven sessions, testified that he turned to drugs because of the pain he began to suffer at the age of thirteen, when his father died. "His mother was very, very abusive, and, I believe, an alcoholic," Caine stated, adding that after Gladney's father passed, his mother "failed, frankly, in her job."

Gladney's mother is now deceased. Fein noted that Gladney took her into his home for the last two years of her life and cared for her.

Gladney acknowledged his drug abuse and credited the recent counseling for helping him find this "wounded place inside of me...that often caused me to feel betrayed, or treated unfairly."

He begged the judge for leniency, and cried at the mention of the hurt he has caused so many — especially his wife.

Read "7-Up vs. Coke" Part 1 and "7-Up vs. Coke" Part 2, published in February 2008 in the Riverfront Times.