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Crossridge Landfill Court Proceedings in Jefferson County Hit Snag

photo by: Linda Harris

Attorney Frank Bruzzese, representing several heirs of the late Barbara Scugoza, argued in vain Tuesday for sanctions against the state of Ohio.

The state of Ohio’s efforts to hold Crossridge Landfill owner Joseph Scugoza accountable for alleged environmental violations hit a roadblock Tuesday after the attorney for one defendant had to step aside and another fell ill.

But in the hour before the morning’s contentious proceedings ground to a halt, visiting Judge Richard McMonagle declined to unfreeze assets so attorneys for the four defendants could be paid, nixed the idea of imposing sanctions and ordering the state to pay $2,000 in attorney fees for Scugoza’s three half-brothers after they “were dragged into the case” following the death of their mother and refused to close the Jefferson County Common Pleas courtroom to the media.

Attorneys battled over whether the state’s motions to freeze assets of parties who weren’t necessarily party to the original complaint, after it rested its case last year in a contempt suit, could be or should be enforced.

Attorney Piero Cozza, who represented the late Barbara Scugoza, pointed out her will has been admitted to probate, though it’s being challenged by “some of Barbara’s heirs.”

“That throws a monkey wrench into what we’ve got here,” McMonagle said.

Since 2013, the state maintains Joseph Scugoza has “made a concerted effort to move assets” into his wife and his late mother’s name.

Cozza complained that Barbara Scugoza’s assets are in limbo, “waiting to be probated. There’s no new evidence they can possibly offer to prove Joseph Scugoza is siphoning assets to his mother,” prompting the state to point out that as her personal lawyer, Cozza should not now be representing her estate since he, too, has a claim against the estate.

Cozza did step aside.

Attorney Steven Stickles, who has been representing Joseph Scugoza, said the court needs to “stop this abandonment of all legal procedure and precedence. We need to follow exactly how the law works.” Stickles left the courtroom after becoming ill.

The proceedings were continued until October.

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