LOCKPORT – The former owner of Peters Dry Cleaning will be on probation for three years for building code violations, City Judge Thomas M. DiMillo said Thursday.
Patrick S. McFall, 42, of Newfane, will need longer than three years to pay all the money he owes the City of Lockport, according to his attorney, Jon R. Wilson.
McFall pleaded guilty last month to the code violations served on him in the wake of the Dec. 15 collapse of the west wing of the nearly 80-year-old Willow Street store. The pile of bricks still has not been cleaned up. Thursday, McFall made the $5,000 down payment he promised last month, but Wilson and Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew E. Brooks haven’t nailed down how much the total tab will be.
McFall owed about $43,000 in back taxes and water bills, but after a conference with the attorneys, DiMillo said the city is trying to include costs of enforcement and prosecution. “To somehow make amends for the wrong done to the city, that number will include all that,” the judge said.
But Wilson said the total McFall will pay will not exceed $40,000. The sides are to return to court Nov. 29 to complete the payment negotiations.
“I would say the settlement is 99 percent complete,” Brooks said.
In June, McFall sold the property for $1 to Eddie Person, a Lockport man who says he is illiterate and was tricked into taking the property. It is listed as a Class 2 inactive hazardous waste site by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of dry cleaning chemicals dumped on the ground decades ago, before McFall bought the store.
Wilson and Brooks said they are looking for what the latter called “a global settlement,” including resolution of the civil suit Person filed in late October to void his purchase of the property.
McFalls denied tricking Person and said he doesn’t think the man is illiterate.
Brooks said if Person wins his case, the property will revert to McFall. Wilson said he wants to make sure the city won’t charge McFall with more code violations for dates since the sale.
Brooks said the city plans to foreclose on the property if it reverts to McFall. Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the city wants a deal similar to the one it used to take control of another brownfield, the old Dussault Foundry on Washburn Street, when its owners abandoned it and left cleanup to the DEC.
DiMillo said he is keeping his promise of no jail time for McFall, but switched from a one-year conditional discharge to three years’ probation. The only condition of the probation is that McFall pay the money he owes the city.
Wilson said a conditional discharge would leave DiMillo with no option but to jail McFall if he missed a payment. DiMillo would have other options in a probation scenario, Wilson said.
McFall served five days in jail in June after DiMillo convicted him of code violations in a nonjury trial and sentenced him to seven months. Wilson belatedly argued that McFall should have had a jury trial. DiMillo agreed and freed McFall, and a plea deal ensued.