Democratic mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello has issued a followup statement to rival Mary-Jane Foster’s freedom of information disclosure regarding millions in city legal work paid to lawyers supporting Mayor Bill Finch’s reelection. The city did not disclose legal fees paid to lawyers for a few city-related agencies such as the Water Pollution Control Authority which receives its revenue from user fees. Coviello claims that attorney Juda Epstein, whose specialty is collection litigation, has received millions for work involving the Water Pollution Control Authority and foreclosure cases. Coviello does not claim to have filed an FOI request himself nor reveals the source to validate Epstein’s fees. Coviello’s statement:
ATTORNEY FUNDRAISER MAKES A COOL $MILLION
A recent challenge to Bill Finch by Mary-Jane Foster (MJF) with her FOIA (freedom of information) request totally missed the mark. With the City of Bridgeport, the wording of the FOIA request has to specify exactly who you want to include if you want the complete story.
The issue was over Finch’s solicitation of campaign funds from attorneys in exchange for legal services and MJF never found out about the largest contributor to Finch’s re-election campaign fund.
The big municipal legal winner is Judah Epstein, attorney, who has been given total control over all foreclosure proceedings issued by the WPCA and most of the city tax foreclosures actions. His earnings have been in excess of $1 Million per year. Where other attorneys charge around $600 to serve foreclosure papers for banks and other secured lien holders, Epstein charges $1500 to $2800. By charging an excessive amount for his foreclosure services, it is easy to see where Epstein has created a city funded cash flow for him to donate to his favorite charity, Bill Finch’s re-election campaign fund.
To make matters worse, when the foreclosure is completed, Epstein arranges for the property to be purchased by his business associates at below market prices so that they can repair and flip the property making huge profits. The homeowner gets screwed, the taxpayer gets screwed and Mayor Finch raises huge bucks to keep control of the city by getting re-elected.
The net result is that residents who own a home free and clear lose it to the vultures. We in turn, we get the opportunity to have another family deposited into the social services system which we pay for in our taxes. Bridgeport taxpayers get stuck with the bill and lose the actual value of the property from our grand list when it is sold out from under the homeowner at a distressed price.
All this is being done to fatten Mr. Finch’s campaign coffers which Mr. Epstein has been very effective in accomplishing. He brags about raising $150,000 for Finch in the 2007 election and is well on his way to similar numbers for 2011.
Bill Finch has sold his soul to the devil for a pound of flesh. This pay to play game is alive and well with Finch and Epstein.
“As your Mayor, I will stop this practice of auctioning off our residents homes to the lowest bidder and move to find ways to help our residents stay in their homes. Many of our retired senior citizens live on fixed incomes and the continuous increases in our WPCA fees and taxes are more that they can handle. Instead of stealing their homes, we need to assist these people in staying there. A recent foreclosure by WPCA on a homeowner for a $400 WPCA outstanding bill is outrageous. It shows us the disdain our elected officials have for our valued residents.” Quoted Charlie Coviello.
“I challenge Bill Finch to disclose all of the records regarding Judah Epstein’s relationship with the City of Bridgeport and why he has total control over our foreclosure proceedings. Does Epstein have a contract with the City where they specify the outrageous fees he is allowed to charge helpless senior citizens?” asks Coviello.