No contempt of court against WashCo recorder of deeds

April 11, 2013

A Washington County judge has found that Recorder of Deeds Debbie Bardella is not in contempt of a court order in a dispute over requirements for recording a deed.

A December court order provides that Bardella is to accept deeds that meet two criteria, one of which is that “deeds must be properly acknowledged by the trustee for the respective trust,” President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca wrote in an order filed Wednesday.

The deeds Bardella rejected from the trustees of LLC lacked information about trustees, the judge found.

“Whereas here … terms of the court’s order have not been violated, there can be no contempt,” O’Dell Seneca determined.

Jan Ondra, George Ondra and Billy Joe Sanders, trustees for LLC, 1640 N. Main St., Washington, filed suit claiming that Bardella was not following the law but imposing her own legal judgment on them by requiring that names of trustees be included on a deed when it becomes part of the public record.

A court finding of that nature is “always good news,” said Bardella, who is seeking a fifth four-year term for the county row office.

She said she didn’t regard the Ondras’ and Sanders’ suit as politically motivated because “they’ve been buying and selling tax sale property for a lot of years.”

Issues remain to be resolved, so Bardella declined further comment.

An attempt Thursday afternoon to reach Herbert Terrell, the Pittsburgh attorney representing the Ondras and Sanders, was unsuccessful.

Jan Ondra and Sanders last year tried to market a building at North Main and West Chestnut Streets on eBay with an trustee listed as a resident of Moscow, Russia. The property was removed from the website when it was discovered that a buyer would be responsible for satisfying more than $1.2 million in liens.

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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