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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mark and Mike's Excellent Adventure - Part 2

Earlier this month, I posted Mark and Mike's Excellent Adventure. It's about the curious relationship between City of Easton Community Development Specialist Michael Brett, who also sits on the Zoning Hearing Board, and the City's latest Revelopment Superhero, Mark "I'm not Swytlick" Mulligan.It just happens that Michael the public employee has parked his realtor license over at Mulligan's VM Realty, a subsidiary of his VM Development Group.

Mulligan has the Simon Silk Mill, Wolf Building, Northampton National Bank and Pomeroy Building. Mulligan has taken advantage of every tax handout the City has been willing to pass along, and there's been about $9 million so far.

Of course, when a city real estate redevelopment employee who also sits on the Zoning Hearing Board has a relationship with a developer like Mulligan, all kinds of alarm bells should be sounding. But not to Mayor Sal Panto. He promised to get a whitewash from the Ethics Commission, but also demanded, "Show me the beef!"

He might find a burger or two if he looks into the city records for 356-358 W. Wilkes-Barre Street. In 2012, that South Side brick twin was badly damaged when a fire broke out - twice - within the span of six hours.

The property (there are actually two attached row homes) was sold after the fire, in 2013, to an outfit that seemed to be created just for the purpose - 356-358 Wilkes-Barre L.P.  According to state corporation records, its address is located at 130 Main Street in Flemington. Its General Partner is identified as 356-358 Wilkes-Barre 1A, LLC.  That corporation's address is listed as 400 Northampton Street in Easton, Suite 700.

The amounts paid - $21,900 and $17,700 - are well below what the properties are worth, even with the fire damage. Plus the new owner has access to monies in escrow with the City from the insurance company to ensure repairs are completed.

Whoever bought this property has gone to great lengths to conceal his identity, even to the point of creating a corporation and a partnership. But the identity of at least one of the partners in this venture can be determined by looking at the addresses listed - 130 Main Street and  400 Northampton Street, Suite 700.

It's Mulligan.

Why would Easton's biggest developer go to such great lengths to conceal his identity concerning a small South Side property?

It appears he may be trying to protect one of his partners. If you call the phone number for the permits issued to 356-358 Wilkes-Barre L.P., Michael Brett will answer the phone.

Sal, I'll take pickles, ketchup and A-1 steak sauce on that burger. Maybe we can eat it at Cheeburger, Cheeburger.

Another interesting point is that the attorney who did all the deed transfers for this property is none other than Karl Longenbach. He just happens to be the father of Easton RDA Exec Director Gretchen Longenbach. Seems he's been doing a lot of legal work for Mulligan lately.

Maybe I'll have two hamburgers.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why work with people you can't trust, when you can work within your family? The former Philadelphia Police Chief elected mayor said it best when the local newspaper asked him why his was appointment a family member to his cabinet. He stated, "You want me to appoint a stranger? I know this man my whole life. He's good people." Rizzo's politics raised flags and eyebrows then and should now. Unfortunately, no one seems to care where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware River. I hope someone is at least getting a hand out on these transactions? Because I doubt that the city is collecting any monies from Panto's absurd law to tax workers that don't live in Easton with a commuter tax. Instead the city hopefully is resorting to collecting monies in an unethical fashion.

Anonymous said...

Easton is a cesspool of inbred deals. This is a repeat of Sal's first time around as mayor.

Anonymous said...

so, where's the hook? I get that they joitnly own a property, but....?

Anonymous said...

Wonder if this issue was ever forwarded to the ethics commission?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Another case where the ends (redevelopment) justifies the means.

Anonymous said...

Just hold on folks, Sal will spew some diatribe here in a few minutes in an attempt to spin this misinformation but not till after speaking with the Mark & Mike show and getting their story straight...

Anonymous said...

Only O'Hare would spend this much time stuffing his nose into properties and endeavors that have no effect on him, or anyone else around him.

You post cordially implies that there may have been some grand cover-up, mass conspiracy, and municipal hoodwinking regarding a south side fire

You need to be careful now O'Hare, because although you walk around with wads of cash on you at all times, like a gangster, your portfolio of assets is empty, except for a judgement obtained by fraud.

SO you are no longer judgement proof, and the hundreds of people whose reputations you assail, may find it worth it to sue you, as they should.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Karl the County Solicitor who reviewed the sale agreement for the Wolf Building? I wonder the timing of the two transactions?

Anonymous said...

@7:34
You must be MezzaKKKoocoo or The Mentor.
You keep hoping somebody will sue BOH, but it won't be over this blog. Looks like he found the beef and since this is called "Lehigh Valley Ramblings" that would seem to make a story about Panto and his pals subject to scrutiny.

Or are you just jealous that your blog doesn't get read?

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:53, Longenbach was out as Solicitor before then, and did not handle the sale.

Anonymous said...

@7:34 You aren't anonymous - we know who you are. Unlike your stagnant bog, which I can personally vouch is moderated so most dissenting posts never see the light of day, Bernie allows all posts here, except those that don't meet the site TOS. So many of your venomous diatribes, like this one, remain. That's a good thing, because it shows how single-minded and obsessed you are due to a perceived slight years ago. This obsession led to you libeling Bernie, for which you have now been found GUILTY.

Will you ever learn how to spell judgment? With so many against you, it would be expected to come through experience. Do you learn through experience?

Can you explain how Koury's judgment against you was obtained fraudulently? Your argument was summarily dismissed in his opinion. You allege Bernie has no assets, but soon, due to libel, he will have one of your biggest assets as well as smaller ones. You act like Bernie is playing with fire, yet you are the one with singed hands, and you're about to suffer third degree burns.

You have the unmitigated gall to speak of "fraud", when you fraudulently transferred your house into your mother's name to escape the fine you owe for sullying Bernie's name. YOU are the one who has committed fraud. There is no evidence except whatever smokescreen you have attempted to cast that Bernie has done anything but defend himself.

Keep posting here and attempting to drag down Bernie to your level. It won't work and will backfire on you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Only O'Hare would spend this much time stuffing his nose into properties and endeavors that have no effect on him, or anyone else around him."

When a City of Easton redevelop,net employee is involved in business with Easton's biggest redeveloper, and there is a concerted effort to keep it hushed up, that has an impact on all of us and needs to be exposed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:45, Sal is the Mayor and i understand he has to take some anonymous personal shots. But you go too far. You need to ID yourself before name-calling.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Wonder if this issue was ever forwarded to the ethics commission? "

'm sure it was not bc it has just been exposed now. The Ethics Comm'n only very rarely investigates. They mostly exist to whitewash whatever nonsense elected officials want to get away with, based on the limited information those officials provide. They will, however, go with a vengeance against whistle blowers who publicly reveal what they have done. I have friends who disagree, but my opinion is it is pretty much a useless outfit. Harrisburg alone is a candy store, but a complacent press and sleeping watch dogs like the ethics commission made all kinds of corruption possible until Corbett arrived on the scene. He may be a lousy Governor, but he was a good AG.

Anonymous said...

I'm certain Kathleen Kane will investigate this and prosecute Panto to the fullest extent of the law.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:16,

Oh matey, matey..Again you come running to Bernie's aid like a loyal little puppy. How sweet. You have more of a stalking hang-up with the Mezza than even Bernie. I hope that luxurious apartment you have up Bernie's butt is worth your time in your never ending attacks on this woman.

Anonymous said...

Don't you have your panties in a bunch. Nefarious, cover up, slime and malign. Must be a slow news day or your own personal vendetta. But no you are above that.

Anonymous said...

City Administrator Glenn Steckman
A clarification of blog posts and posting of some actual facts:

Mike Brett is not a city employee. Mr. Brett is a part-time employee of the Re-development Authority. He does receive a city issued check or city benefits. He answers to an independent authority.

The Silk Mill is owned by the RDA. Mr. Mulligan currently has an agreement of sale to purchase the first building. It was purchased by the RDA back in 2005 through RCAP funds which included soil remediation.

Pomeroy's RCAP was with Lou Pektor which was agreed to be transferred to Mulligan's VM as part of the first phase. The second phase involved a loan between VM and DCED.

The Wolf Building had no city involvement other then the city looked at the site as a possible future hall. The RDA had no involvement.

Northampton Bank Building a private sale between VM and the former owner.

Mike Brett is a member of the zoning board.

Mike Brett is a part-owner of the Wilkes Barre property. The properties as I understand it where purchased $5,000 each plus the cost of the escrow amounts. The properties were burned and the outside secured to an acceptable condition. Deals like that are available throughout the city. VM as since partnered with VM and created a limited liablity partnership. A number of landlords and other property owners do this through out the city. And I agree he should get some direction from the state ethics commission which he falls under.

The RDA requested an ethics opinion and was turned down on an opinion because of the lack of standing determination. A second request for an opinion was to go out shortly.

Any one at any time may reach out to me to request information. I maintain an open door policy and my email address is gsteckman@easton-pa.gov.

Glenn Steckman said...

Correction. Mr. Brett does NOT receive a city check or benefits.

Glenn Steckman
City Administrator

Bernie O'Hare said...

Glenn Steckman,

1) The suggestion that you are the font of actual knowledge and are posting "actual facts", as opposed to what has appeared on this b log, is total nonmsese. The fact that Brett is employed by the RDA instead of directly by the city is a distinction without a difference, but is one I made in my earlier post. The reality is that both thr RDA and the City, which sponsors and helps fund it, are public bodies with public emplyees who have an obligation of fidelity to the City, not Mark Mulligan or even Sal Panto.

2) Thanks for making clear that a public and RDA empolyee, Michael Brett, is involved in a buusiness venture with the RDA's biggest redevloper, Mark Mulliugan. The formation of a limited partnership and LLC was obviously done so that the public would be unaware of this relationship. But now we know.

3) Brett obviously was using both inside knowledge and his official position to give himself an edge on matters in which he has a direct financial interest. This is a conflict of interest under the Ethics Act. He formed a business relationship with Mulligan and secured the permits for the work. How much money has Easton released, and has it been premature? This stinks toi high heaven, and you must know that. Hjad he been working in Bethlehem, he's alreadyt be fired. Yet here you are, trying to minimize business dealings between a public employee and a developer.

Anonymous said...


Mr. Steckman,
1. Mr. Brett uses city equipment, city space and has a city email address and therefore, I believe, that classifies him as a city employee? An employee of the city does control him. Can we not do a RTK for his emails? Either way he is considered a public employee.
2. He was a partner with Mulligan on a business venture and voted for Mulligans projects while on the zoning hearing board and while being a business partner. No?
3. Mark Mulligan has been paid by the RDA for services he provided as a contractor and has also benefited from grant funds administered by the RDA. No?
4. More than likely he used inside knowledge to purchase those properties on Wilkes Barre. How would he know about the escrow money? Was the general public offered this escrow money to purchase this property? City Ordinance requires the Finance Director to manage and to release these funds. What was the Finance Directors involvement? Did the City follow proper protocol when these were released? City Code states that all required repairs be complete before release of money. All work was not complete so why was the money released?

City Code - In the event that the City had not yet incurred or does not incur costs to remove, repair or secure the building, the funds received pursuant to Subsection A above shall be held by the Director of Finance in further escrow pending completion of ALL REQUIRED REPAIRS or removal of the structures on the property, and the funds shall not be applied toward delinquent taxes, assessments, penalties and user charges until the structures on the property have been FULLY REPAIRED or removed as may be required.
5. Mulligan owns the development rights to every building on the Silk Site besides Hogtown per Mayor Panto's past comments on this blog. Why else would he be considered the developer of Silk? Silk is more than one building, no?
6. The city applied for a KOZ designation for the Wolf building even after Mulligan claimed he didn't need it to make the project work. This was a major slap in the face to other developers. What was the rationale? No wonder other developers have turned to atown and betlem. i.e. 811 Northampton Building & WEST building. Please Explain why he specifically got it. Did any other developer know about the KOZ when the County agreed to sale it to him. Why did he make the KOZ a requirement in the agreement of sale.

Glenn Steckman said...

Mr. O'Hare:

There is an old saying in my business, " Don't get into spitting match with someone who buys his ink by the barrel". You can print whatever you want in your blog that is fine but the truth is the truth. But, if you ever want to check the facts and the figures before you publish stories you are more then welcome to contact me. Mr. Brett is not an employ who answers to the city administrator and he is not in our organizational chart. He is not a public employee who answers to me as the chief administrative officer of the City of Easton. He is the public employee of an authority which is created by the laws of the Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Glenn Steckman
City Administrator

Anonymous said...

Mr. Steckman,

What was not factual?
I think you validated this blog.

Anonymous said...

I think the Director of Finance does answer to the City Admin and he or she should be asked....Why was this money released before all the work was complete?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Glenn,

1) If you read both of my posts on this topic, you'd realize that I identified brett as an RDA emplyee, not an Easton em,ployee. I conced my second post might mislead someone who did not read the first, but the fact reamoins he is a public empl;yee who engaged in a blatant conflict. The person who is his boss, Gretchen Longenbach, is paid by Easton. Instead of firing the guy, she used her father to do the legal work.

2) I don't buy ink by the barrel. This is a blog, not a newspaper, and is interactive. Anyone can blog. The barbarians are at the gates.

3) Why on earth would I need to speak to you about someone who is not a city employee? But I do appreciate your acknowledgement that he is a Mulligan partner. What are ytou doing aboiut it? Do you hoinestly think Gretchen Longenbach, who hoioked these guys up with her father, intends to do a damn thing? But she is paid by the City, if memory serves, and you can direct her to do the right thing. I would not support firing him, except for the blatant attempt to hide his interest.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Steckman,

If the RDA is so distant from the City how the hell do you know so much factual information about the RDA's business dealings?

Anonymous said...

Mark, Mike and Glenn's excellent adventure.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Steckman,
What about the Alpha building? Didn't Mulligan buy the Alpha building, too? Bernie, you do know this?

Bernie O'Hare said...

He bought it in September I believe

Anonymous said...

Steckman involved? Maybe he blessed this as being acceptable? Mr. Steckman?

Peter J.Cochran said...

Ethics Commission meeting was canceled last week, so you will have to wait and see on this later. I/m not condemning or endorsing ,I will find out and report back on Bernie's blog--even on vacation . I usually get it first here like the Allentown drug dealers in town last night ,photo of car and other crap , BUT NO WHERE TO GO WITH IT .WAIT! I'll get it soon.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Take this to the bank-Mr Steckman is not involved in this operation,and would not compromise his personal integrity if he has to deal with a fringe of it as city administrator.This man is straightforward.Don't put stuff on the web and not sign your name ,and expect him to defend some issue. -So I will here now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I apologize for numerous typos in an earlier comment. I have a finger cut, and I am screwing up words here and there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, It has already been established that brett did compromise his personal integrity by getting involved in a side deal with the RDA's biggest customer. So your account is overdrawn.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie ,I already know in 10 min. you know .17;25hrs

Bernie O'Hare said...

Got it, Peter.

Anonymous said...

Panto must be on vacation with no access to internet or else he doesn't want to respond and incriminate himself?

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, less that 20 years ago the Republican heavies in this county all started their names with an initial first. They met at Holiday Day Inn East off Rt 22. It was sort of an identifier within that clan. Hemstreet was not one of them ,they wanted him out, spent a lot of money to get him out -unsuccessfully as he started his leading name as James ,as he was --only a Dutchman.We loved him anyway.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Terrance Miller needs via City Hall and the administration COMPETENT TAXPAYER CITIZENS to apply for the Ethic Commission of The City of Easton Pennsylvania ,18042 so the Mayor can go forward with issues concerning any CONFLICTS of INTEREST having to do with city employment by LAW..This as per present form of government here in Easton ,Pa.18042 Please contact if you can serve for a vetting processes.They should be an equal opportunity commission. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The fact that this can go on under a public entities roof is just amazing. Mark Mulligan has literally purchased everything he has in Easton. I know this kids mother and his brothers. Mark Mulligan should be ashamed of himself for poorly influecing this kid. Those investors of yours that the Mayor speaks of should be eshamed as well. So how did it go.....so kid you wanna hang with the cool kids?

Anonymous said...

*ashamed

and how can they fire this kid now. sounds like his boss help drag the horse to the fountain on this one. They would have to fire them both.

4:07 - yes it would be interesting to know what role the finance director played in this? That money should have never been released until all repairs were made. That's how it is with everyone else.

Sal Panto, Jr. said...

Anon 5:32 I am not on vacation sorry. I am working fior the betterment of our city and have stated before that I will never again participate in this blog. Mr. O'Hare is nothing more than an agitator who stirs the pot with half-truths and inuendos from individuals that feed him what he thinks is factual. Sorry to disappoint another anon coward who is nothing more than a keyboard warrior. I will no longer feed the trolls.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If pointing out a blatant violation of the Ethics Act makes me an agitator, I'll proudly wear that badge.
Fact: Brett is a public employee in the RDA.
Fact: Mark Mulligan, Easton's latest George Switlyk, is RDA's biggest customer and even gets paid as the construction manager at the Silk Mill.
Fact: Mulligan and Brett got together on a side deal to buy and rehab a property on Wilkes Barre St.
Fact: Mulligan and Brett formed a LLC and partnership to keep the public from learning that they are working together.
Fact: Brett took advantage of inside information and used his official position to enrich himself.
Fact: monies on deposit with Easton are being paid to Brett. Whether he has received money prematurely is TBD.
Fact: mulligan has received concessions not provided to others, including reduced permit fees at Cheeburger.
Fact: Panto asked, "where's the beef?" In my first post. Now when provided with a filet mignon, he calls the fact provider an agitator.
Fact:had this happened in Bethlehem, the transgressors would be fired.

Sometimes the truth does agitate. Too bad. You were good when you engaged people, but you've reached the point in your love affair with Mulligan that you now have become a name caller who tries to shout down those who disagree with you.

Even your biggest supporters have noticed the change in you. Your real friends tell you the truth. Your fair weather supporters. Will blow smoke up your ass.

Anonymous said...

Mayor. These two guys are bad news. Please refrain from defending them.

Anonymous said...

(Responses to Mr.) City Administrator Glenn Steckman

A clarification of blog posts and posting of some actual facts:

Mike Brett is not a city employee. (OK but a city director under your control is his superior. Mr. City Admin why is this stuff happening under your nose?)
Mr. Brett is a part-time employee of the Re-development Authority. (Does it really matter if its part time or full time.)
He [doesn't] does receive a city issued check or city benefits. He answers to an independent authority. (And that authority is run by a director of the City of Easton who is under your control. This proves that the new form of government doesn't work.)

The Silk Mill is owned by the RDA. Mr. Mulligan currently has an agreement of sale to purchase the first building. (This is a downright lie and shows the lengths you are willing to go through to cover this up.)
It was purchased by the RDA back in 2005 through RCAP funds which included soil remediation. (You forgot mention that the millions of other funds that were spent on improvements to the site and BUILDINGS for which he will be given.)

Pomeroy's RCAP was with Lou Pektor which was agreed to be transferred to Mulligan's VM as part of the first phase. (This is true but you are missing a big piece.)
The second phase involved a loan between VM and DCED. (Yes a loan that the city applied for on his behalf. Did they do this for anyone else?)

The Wolf Building had no city involvement other then the city looked at the site as a possible future hall. The RDA had no involvement. (Are you F'n kidding me. The City applied for it be part of the KOZ application to the county before he bought knowing he would buy it. They could have picked any project or any building but they didn't. They even took projects off of the list during the process to increase his chances. i.e. the armory and 811 northampton, both of which are in the west ward.)

Northampton Bank Building a private sale between VM and the former owner. (I'm guessing if you dig deep you will find something there.)

Mike Brett is a member of the zoning board. (For which he voted for a project presented by his business partner.)

Mike Brett is a part-owner of the Wilkes Barre property. The properties as I understand it where purchased $5,000 each plus the cost of the escrow amounts. The properties were burned and the outside secured to an acceptable condition. (This is against City Code which specifically states ALL REPAIRS MUST BE MADE.)
Deals like that are available throughout the city. (Really? How do I go about finding one?)
VM as since partnered with VM and created a limited liablity partnership. A number of landlords and other property owners do this throughout the city. And I agree he should get some direction from the state ethics commission which he falls under. (I think that director under your control should also submit a request to the ethics commission.)

The RDA requested an ethics opinion and was turned down on an opinion because of the lack of standing determination. A second request for an opinion was to go out shortly.

Any one at any time may reach out to me to request information. I maintain an open door policy and my email address is gsteckman@easton-pa.gov.

Anonymous said...

Sal is p---oed.

Anonymous said...

@ 751

You are right when you referrence the wolf building as to the city's involvement and to take matters further look what involvement they had into the illegal assessment appeal for further proof

Anonymous said...

Sad part is that the kid will just move on and become mulligans full time employee. Sad.