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Judge appoints Pittsburgh law firm as Centax receiver

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 11:16 a.m.

A court-appointed receiver expects soon to begin distributing to municipalities and school districts $27 million in back taxes collected by a tax collector that went out of business.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine A. Ward appointed the Pittsburgh law firm of Campbell & Levine to act as receiver for Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania.

Attorney Paul J. Cordaro said in a statement that the goal is to oversee “an orderly wind-down of Centax's business.”

Kristen Michaels, a spokeswoman for the law firm, said there's no definitive timeline for when the money would go to taxing districts.

Centax, based in Bridgeville, collected local, earned-income taxes for 12 counties until Act 32 took effect in January. The law combined the duties of municipal tax collectors under one agency hired by a committee representing the county or taxing district.

Centax collected mercantile taxes, real estate taxes, water and sewer fees and other taxes for municipalities.

School boards and municipalities said this summer that Centax fell woefully behind on distributions.

“We did take a brief look at the firm when they ceased operations,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. “It has been the past practice with these types of situations, if Judge Ward believes there are any indications of improper conduct she will let us know.”

Robert Villella, president and chief reorganization officer at Centax, blamed the delays on computer vendors and said the company was working to catch up.

Cordaro said Centax closed on Sept. 21, before the company could complete transfers to successor tax collectors.

At least two vendors sued Centax in Allegheny County for unpaid bills, and more than a dozen municipalities and tax committees sued Centax for back taxes.

The receiver will liquidate Centax's assets. Ward barred creditors from filing claims against Centax, Cordaro said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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