by Rachel Hunter
The Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees on March 21 agreed to take a property at 54 Dorwin St., Gouverneur, “off the books,” upon the request of the village accountants.
Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall gave the floor to Attorney Henry Leader to explain the situation.
“A judgment was taken in 2011 by the Village of Gouverneur against Angela Lilley,” Attorney Leader said. “The individual got a first-time homebuyers loan. She failed to make payments on that loan, and as a result we got a judgment… There was a first mortgage on Miss Lilley’s property, which was held by the Community Bank. Because she also failed to pay on that mortgage, they foreclosed on her. And as a junior lien, our judgement got taken up into that foreclosure and the property has since been sold.
“What that means is that we no longer hold that lien over her head for that particular property. But the judgment was good for 10 years, until the year 2021, and can be refiled for an additional 10 years, until 2031. And that automatically becomes a lien on any property that may be owned by Miss Lilley, if she resides in St. Lawrence County, or in a separate county, if we file it in another county clerk’s office. Additionally, if she has a source of wages or other income that is not exempt, we can execute on those wages either through Sheriff’s office or privately and we can get repayment of the judgement. The judgment continues to earn (interest) now at a percent. It is a good way of being repaid, generally speaking…
“It appears this was an unusual circumstance in that Miss Lilley did get foreclosed upon, and it is possible she is not in the area. We are trying to discover where she might be now, and to determine if she has wages.
“The other thing is if she were to file bankruptcy, of course, no judgment in the world would be safe. But to our knowledge, we have gotten no notice of that.”
Attorney Leader, Mayor McDougall and the village board agreed that it is a bookkeeping matter.
“I would agree with the accountants. Based on the fact that it is coming on six years old, for bookkeeping purposes, the board can certainly take it off the books,” Attorney Leader said. “But that doesn’t mean it is not collectible necessarily. It doesn’t mean that you would stop pursuing that in case some day you got lucky. It remains on file with the clerk’s office. So, the two are not mutually exclusive.”
Deputy Mayor Charles Newvine moved to remove the property from the village books for bookkeeping purposes, but to also actively pursue to get the judgment along with pursuing a number of other people in the Village of Gouverneur who face a similar situation.
“We had many Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that we took seconds on the mortgage and then those people didn’t pay back, and the village got nothing. So, there are numerous claims of liens that the village has out there that I am sure we wrote off, but are probably less than 10 years old. It would be a worthwhile expense to the village to get Kristina (Ayen) and Henry and everybody involved in that process. If we collect 10 percent of that money that’s out there, it is better than zero percent.”
The village board agreed, and unanimously approved the recommendation of the village accountants.
The next meeting of the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees will be held on April 18 at 7 p.m. at the municipal courtroom.
by Rachel Hunter