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Bank's claim adds twist to Jeannette settlement

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Jeannette officials reached a deal with a businessman and his attorney over a court-imposed judgment that will cost the city more than $267,000, the city's solicitor said.

Or so they thought.

City officials discovered a second bank filed action against Frank Trigona in 2009 seeking repayment of a $75,000 loan he took out in 2003. Dollar Bank is demanding the settlement money as repayment, according to court records.

First National Bank filed a similar action against Trigona in May for repayment of a $615,000 loan, according to records.

“This 2009 action creeps up into the forefront and adds another element to the case,” said attorney Scott Avolio. “I don't know what impact Dollar Bank's claims will have on the city's finances.”

He said Dollar Bank wants the money that is supposed to be paid to Trigona and attorney Robert Lightcap, who represented Trigona in a lawsuit against the city.

Dollar Bank filed the action against Trigona and his Rufus Corp. when he defaulted on payments. Court records indicate that in 2010 Trigona owed the bank more than $90,000 with interest, plus a daily penalty of $9.98.

Lightcap did not respond to a request for comment. Trigona declined to comment.

Under the terms of the proposed deal to pay the award, which requires approval by city council, Lightcap would receive $140,000 in attorney fees and $13,400 in costs.

Trigona would get $25,000 this year, $30,000 in each of the following two years and another $25,000 in 2016.

Avolio said council set aside money in the budget to pay for the settlement.

Trigona sued Jeannette over its refusal to issue occupancy permits for rental properties he owns because he owed taxes to the city. Trigona said the action was illegal, and the county and appeals court agreed. The city initially was ordered to pay more than $272,000 to Trigona and Lightcap, even if Jeannette had to raise taxes or sell assets to pay the award.

In May, First National Bank filed an action seeking to block Jeannette from paying any settlement to Trigona because he had defaulted on the loan. Trigona previously said he has been repaying the money but does not know how much he still owes the bank.

Mayor Robert Carter, who was not in office at the time, said no issue is simple in Jeannette.

“We're trying to work out a resolution that we can vote on and get this behind us,” he said.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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