Saturday, April 23, 2011
The Old River Road Bakery is back in the news
Judge reopens Old River Road Bakery lawsuit
By Andrew Staub (Staff Writer)Published: April 23, 2011
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton cannot escape the controversy surrounding the Old River Road Bakery.
In an about-face from a previous order, a federal judge on Friday reopened a lawsuit in which a Wilkes-Barre couple accused Leighton and assistant city attorney William Vinsko of violating their due process rights by stopping them from buying the Old River Road Bakery so it could be sold to a Leighton and Vinsko associate at a deeply discounted price.
U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, in a March 30 ruling, had dismissed the lawsuit saying Antonia and Tyler Hammond's complaint did not pass constitutional muster and did not adequately explain the "nexus" between the city and the associate, Leo A. Glodzik III.
The judge reopened the case, though, after the couple filed an amended complaint last week that named Glodzik as a third defendant and accused Leighton and Vinsko of directing him to violate the Hammonds' constitutional rights.
The violations arose, the couple argued, when the city supplied "false and misleading information" about the bakery, abruptly removed it from a 2009 county tax sale without notification and allowed or directed Glodzik to destroy their personal property and build a fence that encroached onto their property.
After removing the property at 250 Old River Road from the tax sale, the city sold the property to Glodzik for $38,000, even though the county had assessed the property's value at $478,300.
Leighton had served as Glodzik's real estate broker, while Vinsko had incorporated several businesses for Glodzik. The Hammonds' lawsuit pointed out both relationships and said Leighton and Vinsko's actions "amount to what could be considered insider (city) trading in connection (with) city properties as well as ethics violations since there is a clear conflict of interest."
Leighton, Vinsko and city spokesman Drew McLaughlin did not return phone calls seeking comment. When Caputo dismissed the lawsuit last month, Leighton released a statement that said he, Vinsko and the city "always acted in good faith and did not violate anyone's constitutional rights."
Reached Friday, Glodzik declined to comment about the lawsuit.
"I don't know anything about it," he said. "This is the first I'm hearing about it."
Glodzik pays about $50,000 a year for an exclusive towing contract with the city and often has donated to Leighton's political campaigns. The lawsuit alleges Glodzik built a fence that encroached on the Hammonds' property and then bragged about his relationship with city officials when Antonia Hammond told him she would call city hall.
Glodzik told her, "Go ahead, (they're) all my buddies," according to the lawsuit.
In his March 30 ruling, Caputo noted that government officials can be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates.
The Hammonds have 14 days to file a brief explaining why Caputo should accept the amended complaint.
Just to recap:
Old River Road Bakery was scheduled to be sold at the Sept. 16 2009 tax sale conducted by the county. One day before the sale the city removed the property from the sale list.
The selling of the old river road bakery to LAG towing for $38,000 when it was appraised at $478,300. That's less than 8 percent of the value!!!
8 cents on the dollar. That's like selling gas for 30 cents per gallon!!! And the mayor says he is fiscally responsible. "We were very thankful to get $38,000." Leighton said (Oct 9 2009 Citizens Voice)
Mr. Leo Glodzik donated more than $10,000 to Leighton's campaign in the last four years. He also owns LAG Towing. There is also the "city's" (AKA Leightons) aquizition of several vehicles, of questionable quality and legality but with a HIGH price tag, from Glozdik's in laws (payback?). This is under investigation.
The City asked the county commissioners to forgive $42,349 in back taxes which they did with the understanding the city would acquire it and sell it to a developer for townhouses. LAG is in the towing business not construction.
Leighton has said the city intervened because the building was deteriorating. The city would have no control over who bought the property at a tax sale, which means the city could risk a new buyer who would not clean up the site, Leighton said.
LAG is a towing company. What do you think they will do with the property? I think the will store damaged, leaking cars there.
Does that sound 'Cleaned up' to you? No? Does it sound like MORE of Leightons political lies? Yeah, I think so too.
Dan Emplit WBFD
AKA Don Quixote