Bellaire Bridge Trial Begins
COLUMBUS – Two local attorneys took the stand Tuesday during the first day of a criminal contempt trial for Bellaire Bridge owner Lee Chaklos.
Weirton attorney Dan Guida – who represents the city of Benwood in matters pertaining to the bridge, and Benwood City Solicitor Eric Gordon testified throughout the day before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley, Guida said.
Chaklos’ legal counsel questioned them on matters regarding whether Chaklos failed to tell the court during testimony earlier this year that three liens totalling more than $2 million had been placed against the Bellaire Bridge, according to Guida.
The second day of the trial is set to start at noon today, but Guida said he doesn’t expect there will be a ruling from Marbley. Marbley has instead asked the attorneys involved to submit briefs based on the testimony presented in the trial, to which he will respond. A ruling isn’t expected for a couple of weeks, according to Guida.
Guida and Gordon were joined in the Columbus courtroom by Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell and Benwood Mayor Ed Kuca.
Chaklos co-owns the Bellaire Bridge with his wife, Krystal Chaklos, under the name KDC Investments. The couple resides in Virginia Beach, Va.
Marbley initially scheduled a contempt hearing for Chaklos following a mediation hearing on July 16. It was during the mediation hearing that Marbley learned from Guida that Chaklos hadn’t disclosed to the court that three liens collectively totalling $2,126,400 had been filed against the bridge.
DAC Audit Services of Clarkston, Mich., is holder of the first lien. The company invested $820,0000 with Chaklos, and the company now believes it owns the scrap metal as a result of the deal.
The second of the liens is with RFK Enterprises of New Castle, Pa., who made investments totalling $1.2 million with Chaklos between March 2011 and May 2012. Chaklos promised RFK a high return on the scrap steel from the demolished bridge after it was sold, and he listed all steel scrap from the bridge as collateral in the deal, according to Guida.
Scrap Dynamics Corp. of Aurora, Ohio, holds the third lien. Guida said that company invested $100,000 with Chaklos on May 4, 2012. In exchange, Chaklos promised the company exclusive rights to the bridge’s scrap metal.