Getchey must return 1 month of HUD money to Shamokin housing authority
MILTON - A judge has ruled that landlord Barry Getchey must repay one month of federal housing assistance funds to Shamokin's housing authority and against his bid to recoup three months of funding the authority withheld from him.
Senior Magisterial District Judge Richard P. Cashman, of Milton, ruled Thursday Getchey must repay $3,496 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds he received in October 2011 for 10 tenants who received Section 8 rental assistance while living in his building.
The only solace for Getchey in the judge's two rulings is that he doesn't have to repay the September 2011 subsidies.
The housing authority's Executive Director Ronald Miller testified during a two-hour hearing Thursday before Cashman that Getchey should not have received the two months of payments, totaling $5,826, because the centralized heating system in his North Sixth Street apartment building was not working as of Oct. 1, 2011. A basement furnace was damaged by flooding Sept. 7, and there were also several safety issues, water damage and mold in the building.
Cashman also ruled against Getchey, who represented himself at the hearing, in his counterclaim for $8,000 in funds the landlord says were wrongfully withheld from him by the authority from November 2011 to January 2012. Getchey disputed claims there was no heat in the building, saying he installed electric baseboard heaters for the tenants because of the damage to his furnace. Miller testified Thursday that the baseboards did not meet HUD standards.
Getchey has said he tried to get the furnace fixed following the flood, but could not get a repairman, and then his own health issues further delayed the repairs until November.
Getchey to appeal
After learning of the verdict Friday, Getchey was dismayed, but said he figured the court would rule against him.
"There were some things that I couldn't comprehend during the hearing," Getchey said. "I can't understand, though, how the judge could rule against me, especially when I had paperwork that proved they were lying."
Getchey said he would exercise his right to appeal to the Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas, but would not be handling it himself.
"I'm going to get an attorney to help me with this," he said. "A regular lawyer would have chewed them apart."
Getchey's feud with the authority continues while he awaits a trial date on a bribery charge in which state police accuse him of offering authority board Chairman Raymond G. "Jerry" Splane $300 for help getting the withheld money. Getchey has maintained his innocence in that case, saying the money was offered as a potential thank-you gift, not a bribe, because getting subsidized renters back was critical to Getchey's rental business.
Splane has also filed a libel suit in Northumberland County Court claiming Getchey wrote derogatory statements on picket signs he displayed outside the authority building along Independence Street in downtown Shamokin.
Getchey said Friday he is not deterred.
"I just have to keep going until I find someone that is honest (to help me)," he said.
Following Thursday's hearing, Cashman told the two parties he would issue a ruling within three business days, not by Oct. 30, as previously reported. He ruled later the same day as the hearing.