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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lushis Law Firm Made $813,000 With NorCo GPA in 2016 and 2017


Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Attorney John Lushis and his law firm, Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus should take note. One of his former partners, Scott Allinson, is on trial in Allentown right now for being too much of a pig. The crimes charged are conspiracy and bribery, but the real sin is greed. Allinson was one of the Norris McLaughlin rainmakers, a schmoozer who knew that solicitorships on local government boards helped clients like Charles Chrin make real money. It is Allinson who pushed for Norris McLaughlin on the General Purpose Authority (GPA) as well as the Gaming Board. But instead of just being pigs, the firm is a hog. Although I still am waiting for a complete answer to my request for legal bills from that firm over the past two years, I can tell you now that Lushis and his firm billed Northampton County $783,039.30 over the past two years. In addition, that firm is allowed to collect fees when outfits like St. Luke's or Lehigh University float a bond. In December 2017, Lushis charged $30,000 for a St. Luke's bond. Overall, Lushis and his firm have made at least $813,039.30 from their affiliation with the GPA in 2016 and 2017.

In addition to his regular work for the GPA, Lushis was working on the side for former Executive John Brown as some sort of secret Solicitor. Though he was still sending in bills through the GPA, these were for "special legal services." When I confronted Lushis about this at February's GPA meeting, he denied it. But GPA Chair Shawn Langen had previously told me that's exactly what happened. And I now have the bills.

Under the county's administrative code, an Executive who wants to engage someone for professional services is required to follow certain procedures. Those were completely ignored. He is required to notify Council and the Controller. That never happened, either. His use of Lushis was an end-run around Council.

Section 13.21 of the Administrative Code provides,
"No elected or appointed official or employee of the County shall intentionally or knowingly circumvent the provisions of this Article. Further, that any such elected or appointed official or employee of the County of Northampton who shall intentionally and/or knowingly violate this Article shall be subject to surcharge to the extent of the damage shown to be thereby sustained by the County of Northampton,shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon a conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than one year or pay a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. Any contract entered into in violation of the within article shall not be binding upon the County of Northampton."
This was a serious transgression.

What are these "special legal services?"

Lushis was helping lay the groundwork for a jail at Gracedale in Upper Nazareth. You know, the one Brown eventually pledged never to build.

His bills tell quite the story.

On February 8, Lushis charged for participation in a two-hour meeting with Brown and Upper Nazareth Solicitor Gary Asteak. He and his firm also spent that month researching the application of zoning laws and also drafted legislation to enable the jail to be built as a P3 (public-private partnership) project.

In March, Lushis met with Senator Pat Browne to discuss legislation that would enable the jail to be built as a P3 project, and started lining up banks like American, First Northern, PNC and Embassy Bank as possible lenders. His firm drafted a zoning ordinance amendment for Upper Nazareth Tp. They researched whether the Upper Nazareth Zoning Ordinance is exclusionary. They also studied whether "essential government services" like a jail trumps local zoning.

Finally, March 27 arrived, the day of Brown's backroom meeting with Upper Nazareth Supervisors.

Lushis billed the county for ten hours that day. Other members of the Norris, McLaughlin  billed for another 13 hours

And the County paid for this meeting about which no one in the community knew anything.

In April and May, Senator Pat Browne was lobbied to enact legislation in which local zoning laws could be trumped for projects like a jail .

In July, Lushis was still preparing talking points about a jail at Gracedale. He and his firm also billed $2,730.00 for a 3.9 hour long "strategy telephone conference" based on a review of a 2008 entry in this very blog, in which different jail options were presented. That's the meeting in which Ron Angle, then Finance Chair, asked, "The reality here is, who the hell wants a new prison?"

John Lushis and John Brown.

Around late July, as public word of a jail at Gracedale began to spread, Lushis began looking at West Easton and Bethlehem (Applebutter Rd), too.

As summer wound to an end, Gracedale as a jail was beginning to blow up in Brown's face. The jail research began to wane. But in October, the County was charged $$3,390 to register six copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office for P3 licenses and agreements. These were registered in the name of the Norris, McLaughlin law firm, but we paid for it.

After Brown lost the election, that was the end of the "special legal services."

But there was fear that incoming Executive Lamont McClure might attempt to torpedo the P3 project under which 33 bridges are being repaired or replaced. McClure has no such intention, but they had no idea what he might do. He might end the gravy train for Lushis and Langen. So just as Lushis provided "special legal services" for John Brown, Northampton County Solicitor Ryan Durkin provided special legal services for the GPA. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

35 comments:

Celtic Warrior said...

Bernie O'Hara your blog is a disgrace.

MPH

Anonymous said...

Boy was Brown a dishonest scumbag! Thank God he and his ilk were voted out of office. Did the law firm contribute to his campaign?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll have to check. I imagine NMM is running scared these days.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the county supposed to get some of the money from fees for bonds. The hospitals and universities bonds went through the GPA and the fees collected went to the county. Supposedly thee fees helped defray the cost of DCER$D employee.

If the GPA has gone this rouge the county may have grounds to end it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The GPA does get an admin fee from the sale of bonds, and the solicitor is allowed to charge a certain amount of money. It is supposed to be capped at $25k, but Lushis was allowed to take $30k from St.Luke's bc it was supposedly a rush.

That's being a big, not a hog. Being a hog is charging over $800,000 over two years and doing work for the Exec outside the ambit of the GPA while funneling bills through the GPA so that Council and the Controller are none the wiser.

I realize Peg is on this board but doubt she had a clue.

Anonymous said...

Is this where the chants of "Lock Him Up" begin? Good work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:18. The county is supposed to collect part of the fees on the bonds. If not being done then what the Hell is the point of the authority? A question should be is the county proper getting any money from the GPA and if not, why not. This is a basic question that even Peg Ferraro should know since she is on the authority.

Anonymous said...

$2,370.00/3.9 hours= $700/hr. Norris McLaughlin was billing the County at $700/hr??? This is absurd!

Anonymous said...

*$2,730.00

Anonymous said...

I would'nt be mentioning Charles Chrin to often in Your Garbage blog if I were You..!!

Anonymous said...

Bernie
For Peg to say, "hear no evil, do no evil, see no evil" is unacceptable. What the hell did Peg do when attending meetings. What questions did she ask? You should ask her outright if she knew about the prison at Gracedale.
The County should hire a special prosecutor to look at this matter, call the attorney general's office and put them on notice of possible malfeasance/misfeasance along with the District attorney. Peg should resign from the board. She did not do her job.

Anonymous said...

Finally calling Norris, Mclaughlin & Marcus a proper name. These scumbags have their dirty hands in everything around here. Afterall, the more credit each attorney gets, the higher his pay. These people need to be investigated by the Feds. We can find jail cells next to "Fed Ed".

The sleazeball John Brown, who has taken so many playbook pages from "Fed Ed", should also be investigated by the FBI. Both he and "Fed Ed", who also looked for a ticket out of here, should have memorials linked together in how to screw and cajole the local taxpayers.

Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus should be investigated by the Supreme Court Disciplinary Council for unethical conduct and broken up as a law entity. They have clandestinely cheated, lied and subverted the truth of their operations and have screwed the taxpayers of honest services!

Anonymous said...

Lawyers & Engineers are bankrupting all local municipal governments.

Anonymous said...

And the stench off the legal landfill..... NMM and School Solicitor King Spry gets thicker.... it smells so bad kinda like being in the Slate Belt...one snif and you just know

At these places.. young lawyers are taught.. "if ya want to act like a turd go out and lay in the yard".... if you want to be a hog money sucking lawyer work for these two firms...

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

Brown and Pawlowski will enjoy their time together as cellmates in Lewisburg. They can bore each other to death with their wonkish diatribes.

Anonymous said...

Is any of this illegal? Or is this legal pillaging?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

10:42, If you want to spew lies, identify yourself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is any of this illegal? Or is this legal pillaging?"

As I say in the body of my story, the Admin Code sets forth a process for the Exec yo follow when he wants to hire professional services. He clearly ignored that process,and I believe he did so corruptly and for the specific purpose of avoiding Council and Controller. He acted illegally. The Admin Code would have no application to Lushis. I really am more interested right now in spelling out what happened.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"These people need to be investigated by the Feds."

What do you think the Scott Allinson prosecution is?

Anonymous said...

Great job Bernie. This is clearly illegal and unethical behavior. The County should be reimbursed, and those responsible should be criminally charged.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:21, No, she did not do her job. Yes, she does need to resign from the GPA. I called on her to do so. She's been calling in for the past two months from Fl. At the last Council meeting, she really disrupted things, constantly interrupting to ask questions to which she would know the answer if she were there. Also, the background noise was very disruptive. Council needs to strictly limit the number of times a member can participate by phone. I like the technology, but not the disruptions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I would'nt be mentioning Charles Chrin to often in Your Garbage blog if I were You..!! "

A person unable to distinguish the difference between "to" and "too" is too ignorant to give any advice to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

monitored by the forum police again I see. Let people speak their mind. You are .

Anonymous said...

What did Cathy Allen know and how is she involved? You know she has her tiny little hands in on this too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"monitored by the forum police again I see. Let people speak their mind. You are ."

You can speak your mind so long as you identify yourself so the Sheriff knows where to serve the libel complaint.

george schaller said...

Bernie, I will quote a mouth piece that was paid for with public monies and what she said to me once while she supposedly was representing me, "you don't want to mess with esq."? hahaha


I don't know your story Bernie but seeing as what you do now, maybe we will see them on the other side and we can say, told ya so!
republican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

BO- I think you have em scared to death especially since the FBI reads your blog more then twice daily I hear for new info on alot of events. Once they are done with Fed Ed they no doubt will be looking at this and other things that have come to light.

Anonymous said...

Why did you delete 10:42, shame.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad a few dirty lawyers are giving NMM a bad name.

Anonymous said...

This may very well end up in court.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why did you delete 10:42, shame."

If you want to smear people who are not part of this story, I insist that you identify yourself and take responsibility for your words. If you can't do that, don't waste my time.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t Lushis a former Bethlehem Steel Atty.? Hmmm.
——Mother Jones

Anonymous said...

Excellent view for your readers into the shenanigans going on behind the scenes. Keep up the great work Bernie!