A criminal contempt hearing in federal court for Bellaire Bridge owner Lee Chaklos has been rescheduled for next month.
Chaklos is to appear before Judge Algenon L. Marbley in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at 9 a.m. Oct. 11. A hearing previously set for last week was continued.
Marbley scheduled the criminal contempt hearing following a July 16 mediation hearing involving Chaklos and Benwood officials. It was during the hearing the court learned Chaklos hadn't disclosed there were three liens against the span, collectively totalling $2.12 million.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
The Bellaire Bridge still awaits demolition while a contempt hearing for the span’s owner has been continued until Oct. 11.
Ownership of the scrap steel rights also was questioned that day, as well as the value of the scrap steel as represented by Chaklos, according to an order filed by the judge Monday.
If found guilty of criminal contempt, Chaklos could be subject to the maximum sentence of six months imprisonment, and a $5,000 fine, according to the order. The order also indicates that Chaklos already owes the court $85,000 in outstanding sanctions.
When contacted Monday, Chaklos said he has been ordered by legal counsel not to speak on the matter. Chaklos, of Delta Demolition, and his wife, Krystal, co-own the bridge under the name KDC Investments.
"In sum, this court has expended an extraordinary amount of time and effort - communicating with KDC's counsel, monitoring status reports, hosting status conferences, engaging in fact-finding, facilitating mediation, etc. - to achieve conditions in which demolition could proceed," Marbley writes in his order.
"If true, however, Benwood's proffered information regarding the actual value of the bridge, the three pre-existing liens, the prior sale of scrap purchase rights, and the disputed ownership of the steel means that KDC has - for years - held little or no equity in the bridge at all."
The judge adds that Chaklos' efforts before the court to receive "repeated permissions and extensions" pertaining to the bridge's demolition "may have been patently false."
During testimony on Feb. 20, Chaklos estimated the value of the bridge's scrap metal at $2.4 million. Benwood officials dispute the worth, with estimates at between $972,720 and $1.04 million.
Three companies have placed liens against the bridge. DAC Audit Services of Clarkston, Mich., invested $820,000 with Chaklos, and believes it now owns the scrap metal as a result of the deal. RFK Enterprises of New Castle, Pa., made investments totalling $1.2 million for a share in the sell of scrap metal; and Scrap Dynamics Corp. of Aurora, Ohio, paid Chaklos $100,000 to become the exclusive purchaser of the bridge scrap, according to the court documents.