Former state prison in Hempfield scheduled for sheriff’s sale |
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Deb Erdley

A sprawling former state prison that sits on 96 acres along Route 119 in Hempfield is scheduled to be sold at a Westmoreland County sheriff’s sale in January.

Notice of the sale that went out Tuesday cited an action by First Commonwealth Bank of Indiana, Pa., to foreclose against Verdant Holdings LLC for $894,336 in past due payments and costs on an $850,000 line of credit the bank extended to Verdant in 2016.

Carlisle businessman David H. Goldsmith purchased the 900-bed facility that the state closed in 2013 at auction in February 2015 for $950,000 and then titled it to Verdant.

In an arrangement that raised questions with state and local officials, Goldsmith, who had built a steam energy plant at the prison and had a contract to provide electricity to the facility through 2024, turned around and collected $7.6 million under the terms of the agreement that required the state to buy out his contract if it was terminated before the expiration date.

Court records suggest Verdant, which touted plans to build a $150 million veterans center at the site as recently as April 2018, has had repeated financial difficulties.

In August 2018, StanTec Architecture and Engineering filed a mechanic’s lien against Verdant for unpaid bills for preliminary work on the prison site.

In October 2018, Midwest Bank of Detroit Lakes, Minn., filed a foreclosure action against Verdant seeking payment on a $5 million mortgage for the prison site that was due May 16, 2018. That deal also appears to be at the heart of a complex civil case Midwest filed against Goldsmith in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

Tax records show Verdant also faces a $15,936 bill for back taxes and fees from 2018 owed to the Hempfield Area School District.

Goldsmith did not return a call for comment, but his lawyer, Martin Cerullo, said his client is working to resolve the complaints.

“Verdant is in the process of seeking financing to allow them to address each of those situations, but nothing has been finalized yet,” Cerullo said.

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