Not-so-merry-go-round in federal court with indictment of Cafesjian's former aide


If the last name Cafesjian looks familiar, it may be because it's attached to the historic Cafesjian Carousel, housed in Como Park. Now a long-simmering dispute between the carousel's benefactor, former West Publishing executive Gerard Cafesijan, 87, and a former aide resulted in federal charges.

The Pioneer Press reports that a 26-count federal grand jury indictment against John Joseph Waters Jr., 56, of Eden Prairie was unsealed Wednesday. It includes multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, income tax evasion and filing a false income tax return. The indictment accuses Waters of using his signing authority to illegally transfer millions from Cafesjian's accounts to accounts Waters controlled.

Last year, Waters brought a civil suit against Cafesjian, alleging that he was owed millions in back pay. Cafesjian countersued, claiming Waters had embezzled millions. U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle threw out Waters' claim, leaving Cafesjian's counterclaim. It could go to trial in October.

The Star Tribune reports Waters started working for Cafesjian at West Publishing in 1994. When Cafesjian retired in 1996, Waters left with him to manage his investments and philanthropic activity. Cafesjian began his career with West Publishing in 1952 and realized $300 million when it was acquired by Thomson Corp., now Thomson Reuters.

Cafesjian has homes in Roseville and Naples, Fla. He led a effort to save a 1914 merry-go-round from the Minnesota State Fair. He and others contributed more than $2 million to save the carousel from being broken up and auctioned off. The Cafesjian Carousel was restored and is housed in a pavilion at St. Paul's Como Park.

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