Eagle Sign Co. owner owes more than $10K
MOUNT CARMEL - A Kulpmont property owner faces more than $10,000 in fines and costs after being found guilty of 20 code violations last week in an ongoing court battle.
Thomas Valeiko, of Commack, N.Y., who refused to come up with a formal plan to remove a debris pile from a collapsed building at 1263 Chestnut St., was found guilty Aug. 28 by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones of the offenses filed by Kulpmont Code Enforcement Officer Russ Moroz.
On July 22, Jones granted Valeiko 20 days to come up with a plan to remove the debris and have the site cleaned up by Sept. 30. The deal between the borough and Valeiko was reached following two hours of negotiations at Jones' office, where the judge was to have presided over a summary trial for Valeiko.
But when Valeiko failed to negotiate in good faith with the borough, Jones found him guilty at the conclusion of a summary trial the defendant attended without his attorney, Richard Feudale, of Mount Carmel.
If Valeiko fails to make payments on his fines and costs or doesn't appeal Jones' ruling within 30 days, he could go to county jail.
On Wednesday, Valeiko was back in front of Jones on a public nuisance charge filed by Kulpmont police. Valeiko, under the advice of Feudale, waived his right to a hearing, sending the case to the Court of Common Pleas, where he can plead guilty or no contest Oct. 27, or seek a trial by pleading not guilty.
Feudale reserved comment Wednesday when asked about his client's decision to waive the hearing.
On Feb. 21, the second floor of the two-story cinder-block structure collapsed, mostly falling on itself, but also smashing a box truck parked nearby. Demolition crews took down the second floor because it presented a hazard to neighboring properties.
Valeiko told Moroz at the time he was claiming bankruptcy and had no money to clean up the site.
But in July, Valeiko claimed he was looking to fix up another property in the borough, sell it, and use the profits for the cleanup. But Valeiko said the borough wouldn't give him a work permit.
Moroz said it's borough policy to not issue work permits to individuals who have code citations against them.
A 2002 borough ordinance gives the code enforcement officer authority to set fines between $25 and $1,000 per citation. Moroz said fines were set at $500 each against Valeiko.