— The Wayne County District Attorney has received information from Honesdale Borough about the situation regarding the anchor loan documents which were the subject of discussion last week.
Honesdale Borough Solicitor Rich Henry confirmed Wednesday he had met with District Attorney Janine Edwards about the matter.
"We met today," said Henry, confirming he did turn over to her all of the documents related to the matter.
Last week, the council voted 5-1 to request that Edwards look into the matter regarding the anchor loan.
At issue is the alternation of the documents by councilman Scott Smith, who admitted at last week's meeting he had changed the terms of the agreement. Smith said the change was made from a 20-year loan to a 30-year loan.
Henry said he had no knowledge the documents had been changed.
Councilman Bob Jennings made a motion at the meeting requesting Edwards to look into the matter and then to refer it to the the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"It's a serious matter," said Jennings at that meeting.
When the vote was taken on the motion to refer the case to the DA, it passed 5-1.
Only Smith voted against the motion.
Voting for it were Jennings, Harry DeVrieze, Juanita Pisano, Mike Slish and council vice-president Jim Brennan.
Henry said on Wednesday that as the vice-president of the council, Brennan, who ran the meeting in the absence of chairman F.J. Monaghan, sent a letter to his office making sure the matter was taken to the DA.
Basically, said Henry, Brennan wrote the letter to "make sure" the solicitor got the information to Edwards. Henry said he was going to supply a copy of Brennan's letter to the DA on Wednesday afternoon to make sure she had all of the documentation relating to the matter.
In that letter to Henry dated June 24, Brennan outlined the motion which was passed 5-1 and then added, "Please follow through with any necessary action that this motion requires."
Henry also said Wednesday since the case is now in the hands of law enforcement as part of an investigation, he had no further comment about the matter. Henry added he has advised the members of the council not to comment because of the situation.
Part of the motion passed by the council referred to the "proposed substitute counsel" which has become a point of contention for Jennings and other members of the council.
The motion alleges that Smith changed the terms of the loan documents, however, Smith said during the meeting last week there was no "malice or aforethought" and he didn't understand the "significance" of having the district attorney and "others" brought into the matter.
Page 2 of 3 - During the discussion last week, Smith explained to the council his version of how the documents were changed.
Smith said he did "not remember" if the loan documents were for 20 or 30 years. He claims he attempted to reach Henry, who was in Harrisburg at the time.
However, Smith said he could not reach Henry.
It was around the same time that attorney Jason Ohliger said he was contacted by Smith to look at some paperwork, which he understood were "loan documents."
Ohliger also said Smith had asked him if he were interested in becoming an "alternate solicitor" for the borough.
But when the matter came before the council, the term "substitute solicitor" was on the agenda, something Ohliger said he did not appreciate.
Ohliger came to the last council meeting and during public comments said someone in that position is asked to give an opinion "when you don't like what your solicitor says. That is not a reason to appoint a substitute solicitor."
Henry said at the last council meeting that Smith had contacted him when he was in Harrisburg and the conversation was about the anchor building loan. He said Smith asked him about the loan length, whether it was 20 or 30 years.
Henry said the council had voted to make it a 20 year loan.
"Apparently he did not like that response," said Henry.
In fact, at the last regular meeting of the council, Henry said the loan documents had been altered without his approval. That alteration was extending the terms of the loan from 20 to 30 years.
That was the basis for the motion which was made by Jennings last week, a motion which seeks "prosecution" if it is warranted following any investigation.
During the discussion portion of the meeting after the motion was made, Pisano said she wanted the matter brought forth.
"I had nothing to do with it," Pisano said. "I would like it cleared up."
DeVrieze said he, too, wanted clarification.
He told Smith that whether or not he remembered if the loan to Smith and Morris, the group awarded the $225,000 anchor loan, was for 20 or 30 years, it did not matter.
"You may not have remembered if it was 20 or 30 years," said DeVrieze. "But Smith and Morris did. They came to you and asked to change the documents."
DeVrieze also told Smith that other members of the council were available to discuss the loan issue but none were approached.
Henry said last week for the documents to be changed, it would have "required new documents."
The solicitor did get the documents finalized recently and the term of the loan is for 20 years.
Page 3 of 3 - Attempts to contact Edwards by phone and email were not returned as of our press time on Wednesday afternoon.