The lawsuit John Paterakis’ widow filed this week against the bakery magnate’s children is a “desperate attempt … to obtain more money than she was left,” one of his sons wrote in a letter sent to thousands of H&S Bakery employees this week.

William Paterakis, who heads the bakery conglomerate based in East Baltimore, said in the letter that was included with the employees’ paychecks earlier this week that the legal battle over his father’s estate would not affect business operations.


He went on to deny the accusations made in a lawsuit filed Monday in Circuit Court by his father’s second wife, who is fighting for one-third of what she says is a $1 billion fortune amassed by her husband — or “JP,” as he is referred to in the letter.

John Paterakis, the multimillionaire risk-taking baker who built his H&S Bakery into the largest privately owned in the country, redeveloped Harbor East, and made governors and mayors his political beneficiaries, died Sunday. He was 87.

“You may have heard that a law suit has been filed by JP’s widow, Roula, against various members of the Paterakis family,” William Paterakis’ letter said. “We absolutely deny her claims and accusations.

“This law suit appears to be no more than a desperate attempt by Roula to obtain more money that she was left in JP’s will,” the letter said. “We intend to vigorously defend our family’s good name and the legacy of our father.”

Arnold M. Weiner, who represents Roula Paterson, said the letter to employees is correct in that the legal action is “against William Paterakis and other members of the family” and not the business.

“The remainder of the letter appears to be nothing more than a repeat of the letter issued by the lawyer defending him, who probably wrote this letter for him,” he said.

As Bill Paterakis prepares to take the helm of the family's companies following the death of his father, John Paterakis Sr., on Sunday, the son said he expects to take a more conservative approach. The family plans to continue to develop Harbor East and to expand the bakery business.

Roula Paterson sued Paterakis’ six children, a grandson, a son-in-law and a business associate, alleging that millions of dollars in cash that the bakery magnate and Harbor East developer kept in safes and bank accounts was taken and concealed, rather than made part of his estate. In his will, John Paterakis had designated his son William and daughter Venice Paterakis Smith as personal representatives, or executors, of his estate, which they valued at $155,354.87. Other assets, such as the business, appear to be owned by various trusts.

Roula Paterakis, who had lived with her husband since 2001 and married him in 2015, petitioned Orphans’ Court of Baltimore County on Wednesday to remove the siblings as the estate’s personal representatives.