Commissioner, ex-husband in court

March 4, 2013
Irey Vaughan

An out-of-county judge will be deciding if the chairman of the California University of Pennsylvania council of trustees is willfully in contempt of a court order in a divorce settlement agreement.

A court battle between Robert Irey and his ex-wife, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, continued Monday, this time before visiting Judge Eugene Fike of Somerset County.

Robert Irey may drive a BMW, but it is 10 years old and it has racked up 100,000 miles. No longer living on Pittsburgh’s South Side, he has downsized to a one-bedroom apartment in Bridgeville.

He said his mother-in-law paid for a five-day trip for him and his wife, Jodi, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that included a job interview.

“We are constantly trying to get caught up,” Robert Irey testified.

“The gentleman is 50 years old and is self-employed. He’s a mining engineer. Where can a mining engineer get a job making $300,000, $200,000, even $100,000? The jobs just aren’t there, and right now, he has no money,” said Robert Irey’s attorney, William Brandstetter.

Diana Irey Vaughan receives $4,700 per month from the sale of CLI Inc., a company owned by Robert Irey, and Brandstetter said several times in court that Robert Irey has already paid out $499,000 “in various ways” since the couple divorced in 2008. Irey Vaughan claims her former husband is in arrears to the tune of about $53,000, plus interest.

“I have never agreed that Mr. Irey is in contempt,” Brandstetter told the judge. “There is a world of difference between non-compliance and contempt.”

Attorney Christopher Blackwell, who represents Irey Vaughan, estimated Robert Irey’s income last year, from his testimony in court, to be about $72,000, although the ex-husband revealed no IRS-related documents and said he has not yet computed his 2012 taxes.

“It all comes down to, how do we get this guy to pay?” Blackwell asked. “This is what was agreed to in the marriage settlement.”

The attorneys also argued over Robert Irey’s real estate interests. Community Bank foreclosed on the former Irey home in Carroll Township in September, and it remains unsold.

Robert Irey, two siblings and his mother own one-quarter shares of a home in Hidden Valley, and Robert Irey owns Monongahela riverfront property in Forward Township, Allegheny County, that is valued at about $10,000, according to a representation made in court.

“If you owe money, sometimes people sell their property to pay another debt,” Blackwell told the judge.

Robert Irey has attempted to sell the Mon River property, but it has not attracted a buyer, Brandstetter said.

Robert Irey, son of the late Frank Irey Jr., a major player in the construction industry who was Washington County Republican Party chairman in the 1990s, went through a list of items that Diana Irey Vaughan enumerated, including furniture, collectibles, tools and equipment.

Her ex-husband categorized most of them as being left in the home they once shared, but from which he was evicted. Some, he said, belong to his current wife, or their whereabouts are unknown.

Robert Irey said he has his golf clubs, golf bag, unicycle and a gold coin he attempted to give to his ex-wife.

Robert Irey said he has been unable to find employment in the local Marcellus Shale industry, but he has done some consulting related to electrical power generation.

Blackwell produced a business card from Keytex Energy LLC in Murrysville, Westmoreland County, that shows Robert Irey as the director of regional sales, although he testified he is not yet in charge of the sales force.

Gov. Tom Corbett last month nominated Thomas Uram of Washington as a replacement for Robert Irey on the university council of trustees. Until the state Senate confirms a gubernatorial nominee, Irey continues to serve.

Asked if the governor’s action was related to the divorce case before the judge, Robert Irey replied, “I’m not going to comment on that.”

Robert Irey has appealed to Superior Court the June 2012 order of Washington County Judge John DiSalle that found him in contempt of various provisions of the divorce settlement. Irey contends that DiSalle should not have heard the case and that his failure to comply with DiSalle’s order is not willful contempt.

Blackwell has requested argument before the appellate court, which he expects to hear the matter in May.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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