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Water line insurer execs await salaries

| Saturday, April 16, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

Top executives of a water and sewer line insurance company made more than $700,000 in 2010, according to bankruptcy filings released Friday.

Attorney Kirk Burkley said the executives at Utility Line Security have not been paid "one dime" this year. "(They) will not until we're done working with creditors."

According to the federal bankruptcy filings, the executives and their salaries were: Christopher Kerr, president; Gregory Cerilli, vice president; Jacob Skezas, secretary/treasurer, each making $192,396; and Brian J. Hohman, assistant secretary/treasurer, $143,811.

None could not be reached for comment.

"We think they are completely acceptable salaries in the industry," Burkley said. "The company was profitable under the contract."

Utility Line Security contracted with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to offer line insurance, which cost customers $5 monthly unless they declined the coverage.

Last month, an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge ruled that state law does not allow the authority to pay the company for the program because it competes with services offered in the private sector.

Based on the judge's ruling, the authority ended the contract with the company, which then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company did not file for bankruptcy protection because it's floundering financially. According to the filings, the company has more than $3.7 million in assets and $757,000 in debts.

Burkley said the four executives did not start drawing a salary until mid-2010, when it was clear that the money received by the water authority, nearly $400,000 monthly, would cover the company's expenses.

Also yesterday, the company filed a list of its top creditors, including a claim of nearly $156,000 by contractor Farbarik Plumbing in Export.

Burkley said agreements with two creditors were filed under seal and other agreements are pending.

The company previously said it intends to honor all claims filed before the authority ended the program, and to complete any pending repair projects while the company appeals the judge's order.

Former authority Executive Director Michael Kenney became embroiled in controversy over the insurance program when it was discovered he was part-owner of Oakmont-based Utilishield, which shares several executives with Utility Line Security.

Kenney resigned in December; his replacement has not been named yet.

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