Former Cherry Blossom Festival CEO sues board for millions

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Former Cherry Blossom CEO Jake Ferro filed a lawsuit against the Cherry Blossom Festival and board members Friday.

It includes more than $2 million in damages, including harm to and disparagement of Ferro’s business and professional reputation.

Ferro says in the lawsuit filed at the Bibb Superior Court that he got no explanation as to why he was asked to resign–only that “board matters” played a role in the decision.

According to the suit, on September 6th, 2016, board chairman Stacy Ingram and member William Fickling told Ferro the board was asking him to resign.

He had until 5 p.m. to decide.

They told him they wanted “an amicable separation,” according to the suit, and that they didn’t want to drag his name through the mud.

A press release would be issued about his departure.

However, Ingram told the local newspaper the board had asked for Ferro’s resignation.

The article stated the board had asked Ferro to resign because he threatened the Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert with relocating the festival if the city did not halt construction on Central City Park while it was going on.

Ferro maintains what Ingram said to the newspaper is false–the board had not authorized or approved any request for his resignation, and he never threatened the mayor.

Ferro says Ingram’s statement to the newspaper presented him in a false light because it “conveyed the message that some misconduct or deficiency on (Ferro’s) behalf precipitated his ouster…”

Ferro says Ingram and Fickling told multiple people that Ferro had threatened Reichert with relocating the festival.

Those statements, Ferro maintains, “irreparably damaged his professional reputation,” and were made with actual malice.

The suit says Ferro has been socially shunned by the business and social communities with which he interacted in his position as President and CEO.

Ferro says the board broke his contract as well by not giving him the proper time to consider a resignation request.

Ingram says she has not seen the lawsuit and has no comment at this time.