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Coyle Theater backers win lawsuit over debt

| Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A lawsuit filed by an architectural firm against the Mid Mon Valley Cultural Trust was dismissed earlier this week.

And the current head of the trust, whose mission is to give new life to Charleroi's Coyle Theater, used the occasion to take a shot at her predecessors.

Melanie Patterson verbally attacked both the previous board and Barry Cassidy, the trust's former consultant, for running up the $7,750 bill.

“The facts prevailed and we proved that the action by those who perpetrated the contract in the hiring of this architect did so without the benefit of appropriate board review, quorum and vote thereof back in 2013 when two contracts were signed - one with Nancy Ellis in June 2013 and the other by Adele Pireaux in October of 2013 - both of whom resigned soon after the contracts were signed,” Patterson said.

“We believe they were following the advice of the former consultant Barry Cassidy, who walked out on the MMVCT twice before resigning in March 2014 and it is our understanding that it was him who filed for the architect at the magistrate.”

Reached by phone Friday, Cassidy said he did not personally file the lawsuit, but acknowledged he delivered it to the Charleroi office of District Magisterial Judge Larry Hopkins' office on behalf of Tom Carnevale, a principal of Carnevale Eustis Architects of Phoenixville, Pa.

The architectural firm filed suit last month, seeking $7,750 for work it completed on behalf of the Coyle Theater project.

The civil suit, which was filed against thge trust and did not name any members of the trust, listed the following expenses: field survey, $2,400; as-built documents, $5,200 and travel expenses, $665.

Hopkins' ruling states “judgment for the defendant, no money owned.”

He declined to comment on his decision.

Attached to the suit was a copy of a letter dated Sept. 12, 2013, and signed by then-trust member Adele Pireaux, detailing the work to be completed.

Pireaux, who once was acting chairwoman of the trust, said last month that the organization made at least three payments of $250 toward the $7,750 bill when she was on the board.

Pireauxalso said at that time that, after she resigned from the trust, she spoke with Patterson and told her about the trust's debt.

“After careful review of the official administrative records and files turned over to us in June, we have found that nothing is mentioned in the official minutes of the corporation, that appropriate board review, quorum, or a vote thereof for any payments to be made to this architect,” Pattersonsaid in an e-mailed statement.

“This type of ‘rogue' behavior by a few in a non-profit organization is unacceptable with the new members of the MMVCT. Add to the fact - we have not received the digital files, photographs, CAD drawings or measurements of the work that was done.

“That information was never shared with us as board members: all that was given to the MMVCT board members were a set of schematic drawings included in a business plan completed by Barry Cassidy, in February of 2014,”

A spokesperson for Carnevale Eustis Architects said the company had no comment on the outcome of the lawuit.

Pireaux said the contract was approved before Patterson joined the board, but Patterson was on the board when the trust voted to pay the architect.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or