Lawsuit filed over county’s filing of deeds

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Three trustees of a McMurray online realty company filed suit Wednesday claiming they are being harmed by illegal policies and procedures being implemented by Washington County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Bardella, who also serves as director of the county tax revenue department and tax claim bureau.


The lawsuit was filed by Jan Ondra, George Ondra and Billy Jo Sanders, trustees for LotsofRealty.com LLC. Each of the men listed their address as 1640 N. Main St., Washington, with Sanders named the managing trustee.


According to the filing, the men claim Bardella, as recorder of deeds, is prohibiting the recording of deeds by refusing to file the deed where a grantee is a trustee unless the deed names an individual. She is also requiring the execution of a trust agreement to show the existence of a purchasing trust.


The lawsuit also contends Bardella refuses to file a deed unless a concise property description is listed or a plan book and page is set forth.


“Ms. Bardella is using her own legal judgment as to what documents are to be recorded,” said attorney Herbert Terrell in the lawsuit.


In addition, Terrell claimed Bardella has imposed additional requirements that are not required under Pennsylvania law, and because of her requirements, she is delaying the transfer of deeds, specifically those for properties purchased by the group at the July tax sale.


As tax bureau director, Bardella is required to sell the property without regard to whether an individual trustee is named, upon payment of agreed price, free and clear of all tax and municipal claims, mortgages and liens, the suit reads.


Also, “Ms. Bardella has developed a practice, policy or procedure to not lower the assessment for repository properties, in line with the assessment statutory restrictions until the year following the sale,” Terrell states. “The deeds are backdated, thus liens and other encumbrances remain with the land.”


The court record also claims it is a conflict of interest for Bardella to hold all three county positions.


The trustee group is seeking a special injunction from the court to stop Bardella from implementing the practices and prevent her from working in each capacity.


Bardella refused to comment on the lawsuit but said it will be reviewed by her solicitor.


This is not the first run in between Bardella and Lots of Realty.com and its trustees.


Last year, LotsofRealty.com had listed property at 8-22 W. Chestnut St., Washington, and 93-95 N. Main St., Washington, for sale at auction on eBay. The property was listed as being owned by the Main Street Trust with the main trustee being Kim J. Gobert of Moscow, Russia.


The property received bids, but the sale allegedly fell through when its was discovered there were more than $1.2 million in federal and state tax liens against the property. The buyer would be liable for the liens, according to Bardella.


A hearing on the request will be held at 9:15 a.m. Nov. 15 before President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca.


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