Monday, December 31, 2012

Butterfly House Applicant Bounces $16k Check

Remember the Butterfly House?

Two years ago, Northampton County Council nearly gave $50,000 from its slush fund (they call it a contingency fund) for the "Butterfly House." Anne Houston dreamed up this idea of a halfway house for single women just released from prison. I guess they're still caterpillars then, but as a result of living with Anne Houston, they turn into beautiful butterflies, spreading happiness and joy all over the Lehigh Valley.

But not everybody likes butterflies. Ron Angle, miserable bastard that he is, was still on Council at the time. He voted No, and got out his butterfly net. Turns out that, contrary to what Houston had been telling everyone, she had no lease, no non-profit and no board of directors. What she did have was $100,000 in judgments. And if anyone needed a halfway house, it was Houston. She had just been evicted from a friend's home in Forks Township.

Houston was relying on her connections to get the dough. Her family socialized with Council member Bruce Gilbert, who vouched for the Butterfly House, rating it "squeaky clean." More importantly, she's a daughter of former District Attorney Charlie Spaziani, and has relatives and friends all over the courthouse and at the jail.

Executive John Stoffa, not one of those friends or relatives, held up payment until Council could reverse itself at its next meeting. The day after my story broke, Houston called to tell me she had a new "wonderful opportunity" out of the area, and was giving up on the Butterfly House.

She did not go very far.

At that time, she owed $16,000 to Mary Lou Lordi. Her friend began pressing her for the money, especially after both she and her husband were laid off. So Houston gave her a check, which promptly bounced. After one and a half years of getting a song and dance, Lordi filed a private criminal complaint, with the approval of DA John Morganelli. At a preliminary hearing on the day after Christmas, District Judge Jacqueline M. Taschner found there was enough evidence to send the case to Northampton County Court. "This is not how you treat a friend," Judge Taschner told Houston. The judge also set bail at $20,000.

According to Lordi, Anne's "a good person. She can be a very warm and very kind person. But I feel I don't have any other recourse."

According to some sources, Houston still does some kind of work at the jail, although it's unclear whether she is a volunteer or is being paid directly or through some grant. I'll confirm that sometime in the next week.

Like Anne, I am also the son of a former DA. I ran into problems of my own. Perhaps she and I should form a club or something. I'll ask County Council for a grant.

If there's one thing County Council does not need, it's a contingency fund.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beyond the personal lifestyle finances of this lady, the fact that funds would be allocated without even a review and verification of her so-called board and IRS documents is troubling.

Anonymous said...

Bad precedent set when Ann McHale got Shiloh church some tax payer spare change to start their half way house project. Everybody got their hands out and not a good idea to support this stuff especially sight unseen. Angle sniffed it out right away.

Anonymous said...

Never understood why people write checks they know will bounce, wouldn't it be easier to set up a payment plan?

Anonymous said...

Bruce Gilbert talks a good game, but his business acumen is seriously lacking.

Two examples are this one and when he quit his job at Wachovia in the hopes of getting the Director/Fiscal Affairs job with the county, then watched that get destroyed by his own fiscal mismanagement.

I like him but don't want him making any decisions that matter.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

Banker, You hit it on the head Nice guy, but something of a disappointment on Council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Never understood why people write checks they know will bounce, wouldn't it be easier to set up a payment plan?"

I've bounced a few, but it was because I thought the money was there. That was years ago, before you could make quick calls to get automated information about your account.

My guess is that it is a psychological more than a criminal problem. Even the victim in this case feels sorry for Anne.

Anonymous said...

She is a vindictive and spiteful person who lies and lies about others -- she thinks she doesn't live in a glass house. Her and her husband owe everyone and the individual in the article is just one of many. She has abandoned her true friends and now spreads vicious lies about them. They were there for her many times in the past but......

Her dad was a wonderful man who did a lot for many. And her husband is also a wonderful man and family. It is ashame that they continue to disgrace their family names. There are so many stories that could be told. You only got a tip of this massive iceberg.

Anonymous said...

the above should say her husband's father (Bill Houston Sr. -- a former teacher, coach, council member, --- loved by all)

Anonymous said...

This is a strange story. I can remember way back to the 90's when people came for what Wayne Grube called the 'Santa Claus" money. Even then, County Council wanted that dociumentation. What the Hell happend to the quality of elected officals in such a relaativley short time.

One, did Stoffa agree or heve an opinoon on this when money was given? Was he asked by anyone on County Council why the Admisntration would or would not approve this grant?

Two, Why the Hell didn't any council memeber at the very least ask to see the non profit papaerwork.

It is certainly fine for County Council to award grants. you don;t like it becasue it is ususally becvasue the
Admi9nstration has refused. Youlike Stoffa so now you se ethis as a slush fund. However, over the years diffferent Administrations have made money decisions based on politics and who knows who. County Council should have the abilty to hear out groups. Council is part of county government and not just there to approve everytihg the administration wants to do.

Sad group of inexperienced people running the county. I wopuld love tosee a few smart experienced folks run for office.

Mark Baker said...

Callahan will straighten all of this out

Anonymous said...

Mark -

It appears the only thing Callahan is straightening out these days is your John Thomas.

Sad day when the best we may hope for is a budget bungling, political cover promising, power abuser.

To the point of the post: When government is empowered to the degree that NorCo losers have chosen (yesterday, today and, it appears, for the foreseeable future), what the hell do you expect? And, sorry you all had to learn the hard way about Gilbert. Lots of words, little action. And what action there was, was. . . well, like this.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

Now that the R brand has become tarnished and beaten into the ground..what will becom the likes of Gilbert and Thierry and Dietrich? All appear to be lame ducks waiting to be picked off in the backlash. Will any of them survive politically? I think not..

Anonymous said...

The Tea Party's 15 minutes of fame and notoriety is about to end and not a minute too soon. Throw those unwilling to compromise out into the streets.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of political pork..remember to eat swine tomorrow. It's good luck and tasty too..

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:52, I'd agree with you. This rigid adherence to ideology, even when he results are locally disastrous, is unhealthy to good government. In a democracy (and I know we are not a true democracy), we don't get anything done unless we listen to all sides and give a little.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, at the time of her incarceration she was in fact a volunteer at the Prison. More than likely approved by the notorious Chaplain!!

Peter J. Cochran said...

Please,another feel good deal with out papers. We need to check grants and hand outs that some how may end up subheading some body in salary .Like Shelly Brown at the State.She want you to believe the State Theater is the reason for helping Easton with 8 MILLION DOLLARS of business in the FOOD BUSINESS with her grant request ,Yes or No? Does Mr Haigle at city hall know that the restaurants are DECLARING 8 Million a year in business? ASK HIM FIRST.If it is TRUE then it is valid.Right?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think the State Theatre is a wonderful asset but there was no justification for the gigantic increase it rec'd from Council this year.

Jolly Joe Timmer said...

Without that increase how would they be able to draw big acts like Englebert Humperdink?

Anonymous said...

Just read this blog,sorry for my late comments.Northampton County Council members need to stop rubber stamping their "Buddies and friends" that have helped them get elected. Angle Was the best "watchdog" we had sitting in chambers.Before electing or re-electing these bozos it's time for the electorate to do their homework. The county prison should be more selective and screen the volunteers that have poor judgement and offer the inmates courses on "How to scam" when your released as Ann Houston has proven to be a deadbeat artist.

Peter J. Cochran said...

To; Mr.Trimmer, I understand what you covey knowing your a pro in this market ,but costs should not fall on the tax payer that can not afford the ticket to see Englebert!However if this big name would prove out to increase the economic picture to the county or City of Easton ,then OK.How do we prove it? How much would the same number of people have to pay each to draw him elsewhere?

Anonymous said...

Bill Houston was a EASD hack --- go along to get along ---- when that dist. was the laughingstock of the Lehigh Valley.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear Anne Houston is on the the right side of the prison. That is where the the door closes and she can't get out ....A long time coming. Just think if she would have received the Grant Funding.....Butterfly Anne would have been writing checks to herself. She should just fly away for good.