It’s not the first time it has happened nor the last, but Anthony Pizighelli, the Republican candidate for Connecticut’s 126th State House seat, wants the horror of a foreclosure action over a few dollars to stop. Pizighelli shares his story of legal action by the city over a small Water Pollution Control Authority assessment, forced into the legal meat grinder of lawyers, bureaucrats and threats to foreclose on his home, as well as the drowning financial experience trying to find resolution to a water bill. He’s challenging Democratic incumbent Charlie Stallworth whose district covers portions of the North End and Upper East Side. Pizighelli is making victim advocacy a campaign platform. His campaign website www.pizighelli.com followed by his commentary.
I am a homeowner; I pay the same taxes you do. I would like to relate a story to you which I am saddened to say I am not alone in dealing with.
One day I received a letter from the Bridgeport City Attorney’s office. It was stuffed in my mail box and when I opened it I was shocked to read “you are being sued in Superior Court.” The city claimed we owed, $771.00, to the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) for uncollected fees. But we had been paying the WPCA all along and this didn’t make any sense to us.
We went to the City Attorney’s office and were treated in a rude and demeaning manner. All our requests to explain the debt were refused and we were told that if we didn’t pay the money it would continue to accrue interest and penalties. “When it reaches two thousand dollars WE WILL take your home.” I asked to speak to the City Attorney but was told he is too busy to talk with every person the city sues.
So never being one to go down without a fight, I decided to file a motion in court to dismiss the matter. This is my right under the constitution. Wrong move, the city withdrew the lawsuit and turned the case over to Attorney Juda Epstein’s office. Now Attorney Epstein is a major fund raiser for our Mayor Bill Finch and coincidentally Attorney Epstein’s firm has been given total control over all foreclosure proceedings issued by the WPCA and most of the city tax foreclosures actions.
The letter I received from Attorney Epstein’s office said they are foreclosing on my home, and I now owe $3500.00, but if you call us before the end of the month I will only be charged $500.00 plus the $900.00 (not $700.00) I already owe. I contacted Attorney Epstein’s office that day and spoke to very nice lady who reassured me it will be fine and agrees to send you the statements you need by fax in a day or two.
Yes I was frustrated, yes my wife and I were afraid we were going to lose our home.
Lulled into a false sense of security I waited, then after the weekend much like the shark in “JAWS” the Marshal arrives with a foreclosure notice. So I called the attorney back and was told someone will call you back, I faxed them, and after repeated calls I finally got to speak to the office manager. I worked in the court and legal system for over 20 years, I have dealt with thousands of people and I have never met a colder less compassionate human being in my life. He blamed us for everything, anything we said was a lie, he told my wife that this has escalated because I never contacted his office.
He told my wife the first law suit “Never happened,” my phone call to his office (even though we provided the name of the person I spoke to and the date and time I called), “Never happened,” and then she tells him we sent a fax and have a confirmation receipt, he says “Never happened.” He told her that he will make one more phone call that night to speak to me directly after that he matter goes to court and they are talking our house.
Once we finally got copies of the bills we realized this whole thing started over an $85.00 assessment fee we didn’t even know the city had applied to our account.
My wife and I were the “lucky” ones. We actually got meet with Attorney Epstein and although he refused to remove the fees saying he can’t, he says he’s trying to work with us, but the reality is his job is to get his money and he doesn’t care one way or another about you, to him it business. He actually smiled at us, and explains how he’s trying to help us, and that we could fight this in court but, we will be paying him one hundred and seventy five dollars an hour plus we will pay our attorney and in the end you will lose your house.”
It’s funny but the first thing I noticed when I sat down in front of his desk is the hand grenade mounted to a board which reads “Free Legal Advice Take a Number” and the number “one” is attached to the pull pin on the grenade. Oh I am sure people will say it was just a replica grenade, a joke, harmless. If that was a “replica” firearm pointed at you, it would make the five o’clock news.
The final resolution was we ended up paying him over $3000.00 for a bill that started out at $85.00 three years ago, and we had been making regular payments all along.
Nightmare over? Nope. Just got another letter from the city our last WPCA bill we purposely over paid so we had a credit $7.26. They still put a lien on our home. Yes they charged us to put a lien on our property when there was a $7.26 credit on the account. And we received yet another threatening letter from the City saying the would issue a tax warrant for the amount now owed which is less then $100.00.
I hear horror stories about the practices involving the WPCA, which is a utility not a tax! Yet it is treated as a tax, how many of you voted on that law? Or even knew about it?
We as taxpayers have rights, yet laws are passed everyday we know nothing or little about, we can blame ourselves or others greed in these situations. But as far as this I am concerned I refuse to be a victim any longer.
This treatment of people is wrong, there are corporations, companies and individuals who truly never pay a dime and they go unnoticed. The guy who makes regular payments goes through hell and back over an eighty five dollar mistake.
This system is in Bridgeport is over run by the Democratic party and it’s badly broken, people are getting rich off of the misfortune of others, you may call it capitalism; I call a nightmare.
People have a right to fair hearing and not to be harassed intimidated or bullied by the very people whose salaries you pay though your taxes.
Why do we have City Attorneys, being paid very well, if all of their work is outsourced to a private firm?
If elected as State Representative I will work to pass laws which protect people like you and me from this unethical and horrific treatment. I will update you on laws that are pending and I will not vote on any law which taxes or otherwise burdens the people of Bridgeport!
Someone needs to step up and stop this. I am that person!