Ares former CEO fired, airs dirty laundry

Ares Armor

Ares’s current CEO Bryce Stirlen, left, and company founder Dimitri Karras on a better day. (Photo: Ares)

The former chief executive officer and founder of the controversial Ares Armor, Dimitri Karras, has been booted from his current position with Ares for publicly attacking the company’s management.

“(Karras) launched a series of disruptive and disrespectful public attacks against the CEO, and the company,” Ares current CEO Bryce Stirlen wrote in a open letter dated July 6. “Furthermore, the uncovering of serious financial discrepancies connected to his selling the company only served to complicate matters.”

According to the letter, Karras has been on paid administrative leave for similar allegations since March, around the same time Stirlen took over as CEO of the California-based company.

In a March 5 article, Karras told Guns.com that he welcomed Stirlen taking over financial responsibilities and overall management of the company because it would afford him time to focus on the operations side of Ares and fight an ongoing court battle with federal regulators.

Strilen took over the leadership role when his company Lake House Capital Management, LLC, based out of Hinsdale, Illinois, acquired the assets of Lycrugan, Inc., the holding company of Ares. However, Karras held on to 30 percent of the company.

Stirlen did not delve into specifics about the relationship and in response to Guns.com’s request for comment, the company’s customer service department said: “The content of the emails that were pushed out reflected nothing but disagreement between old and new executive management of the company. The officers and all operating managers of the company are maintaining the reins of operations.”

Before Ares issued an official statement on Monday, Karras had penned a letter dated July 5 that discussed the squabble, discredited Stirlen’s character, and demand for mediation. However, Karras told Guns.com in an email that the letter was sent privately and in response to critical statements Stirlen had made about him to customers.

“You have failed to honor your word and have fostered an environment where unethical behavior is rampant,” Karras wrote.

Although he does not address his alleged comments made about Ares management, Karras claimed Sterlin allowed company newsletters to be published with quotes falsely attributed to him. Karras, who is outspoken in local and national media broadcasts, alleged the writer was afraid that a conflict would ensue if he approached him and asked for comment.

“(The writer) explained that he was too afraid to contact me in order to obtain a real quote, so he thought it was acceptable to falsify one,” Karras wrote.

Citing company slogans and past statements, Karras accused Sterlin of pretending to be a veteran for financial gain. However, Sterlin quickly addressed the accusation in a press statement and said the company has made efforts to change the slogan.

Karras also claimed Sterlin ignored oral agreements to provide the aforementioned financial support to fight the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in court. When the acquisition was announced, Karras said Lake House Capital pledged a percentage of Ares profits for the court battle.

In the spring of 2014, the ATF zeroed in on Ares for its practice of selling unfinished AR lower receivers, which lack specific machining characteristics and a serial number, details that Ares advertises. The ATF raised concerns about those products, demanded the names of customers who bought them and confiscated materials from the company’s storefront. Karras said the agency later returned the materials though.

Article updated July 7, 2015 at 7:15 pm EST