Judge withdraws motion against Red Gold; lawyer says it happens 'too often'
SUNBURY - Tempers flared at the end, but Wednesday's proceedings did not result in any changes in the fight between Red Gold Enterprises and the Shamokin Housing Authority over Center City Apartments, Shamokin.
The two sides met Wednesday afternoon in Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor's courtroom to discuss the costs paid for maintenance and operation of the former James Madison Hotel, the latest salvo in a three-year legal scrap between the authority and company owner, Eugene Picarella.
After evidence was presented by Red Gold attorney Robert Cravitz, of Selinsgrove, that Red Gold was honoring Saylor's April 2011 order and providing detailed expense reports on a monthly basis, authority attorney Clayton Davidson, of Harrisburg, withdrew the motion.
But Cravitz didn't let it go at that.
"This is happening too often," Cravitz said. "There is a filing and we have to take time to come before the court for a hearing, setting aside time to prepare arguments and evidence, traveling here only to have the motion withdrawn. This is simply money that my client didn't need to expend."
"Your honor, I didn't want to file this motion. I made two phone calls and two e-mails to try to resolve this matter, and got no response," Davidson replied matter-of-factly. "Attorney Cravitz avoided returning my calls. I need proper communication in order to represent my client."
Cravitz answered back, "I was working on other matters in Snyder County and Selinsgrove, and have been instructed by my client to not respond unless something is filed."
The judge then asked Cravtiz for his hourly rate, and awarded Red Gold a $210 credit, equal to 1 1/2 hours of Cravitz's time, toward next month's payment to the housing authority.
Following the hearing, Cravitz commented to a reporter, "That's the story you should be covering. How they hammer our a.. with nothing to show for it."
The purpose of the hearing was a motion to compel payment by the authority, saying that Red Gold continues to pay legal fees and health insurance expenses out of a separate account, money being taken away from payments for the authority toward taxes and a $1.5 million mortgage still owed on the building.
During testimony at the hearing by Center City rental agent Susan Good, she said the authority is holding four checks from September to December that were made out to both the authority and the Northumberland County Tax Claims Bureau in order to pay back property taxes.
"We have paid about $2,763.45 in taxes, and in fact have an overpayment of $450 on it, but have received no credit and the checks haven't been paid," Good said, adding that Red Gold needed to take a loan out in order to keep the taxes current.
The accusatory testimony continued with Cravitz entering a 1099 tax form the authority sent to Red Gold totaling $9,817 in Housing Choice Voucher money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"This is money we've never seen," Good told the court.
Davidson was the only person representing the authority Wednesday. Picarella also was not present.