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The following is the complaint I sent to the New York State Public Integrity Bureau regarding the act of fraud committed against me by the Village of Owego

The act of fraud that I allege was committed by the Village of Owego, specifically Mayor Kevin Millar, Clerk/Treasurer Rodney Marchewka, and Village Attorney Robert McKertich began at a Village of Owego Board meeting on September 4, 2012.

The first order of business of the meeting was an unsafe building hearing regarding a property I owned located at 93-95 Chestnut Street in the Village of Owego. At the beginning of the hearing, a resolution was read, which I remember as simply being a resolution to hold a hearing, there was no determination of facts. During the course of the hearing, and after much debate; the Board voted in a split decision that my house should be demolished. Immediately before and after the discussion and vote on the resolution, there was no resolution read that declared by home unsafe. I waited 5 business days and then requested a copy of the motion that had been filed, as I was unclear what the exact resolution was. At that time, Rodney Marchewka told me that he had not filed the resolutions from that meeting yet; I informed him that the law requires him to file resolutions within 5 days, and that the resolution would have to be read, and voted on at the next meeting.

Roughly two days later, I received a copy of a filed resolution (Exhibit A). This resolution was exactly the resolution I remembered hearing at the beginning of the hearing. The resolution simply called for a hearing on that date, it was the exact same resolution that had been read at a previous meeting, calling for a hearing. When I showed this to Rodney Marchewka, and explained that we would have to re-call the issue at the next meeting, Rodney became combative with me and disagreed with this assertion. I would send multiple letters, make numerous phone calls to the Mayor as well as Village Attorney, but my complaints were being ignored. It would have been incredibly easy to simply read a resolution calling for the demolition of my house at a future Board Meeting, but the Village refused to even do this. On October 18, 2012, I received for the first time, a resolution declaring my home unsafe and calling for its demolition (Exhibit B). This resolution was dated and signed on September 4, 2012 by Rodney Marchewka. I have no recollection of this resolution having been read at the meeting, it certainly was not signed on September 4th, and it most definitely was not filed within 5 days. I immediately went to the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office and a fraud and official misconduct investigation was started, in regards to Rodney Marchewka’s switching of the resolutions. Investigator Hogan acknowledged that Marchewka had acted improperly, but I was told that because there was no financial gain for Marchewka, that charges would not be filed. I was disappointed, but I knew I still had a strong case, and so I requested to listen to the official recordings of the meeting.

Village Attorney Robert McKertich would not allow me to come down to the clerk’s office and listen to the tapes in the company of Marchewka and/or the Mayor, and told me that I could request copies and that they would take time to produce. I didn’t trust the Village to provide me the recordings in a timely fashion and so I contacted two individuals who I knew had also recorded the meeting. One of those individuals was Trustee Earl Hartman, and the other was the husband of former trustee Connie Sternberg. Both of these individuals told me that I could have a copy of the recordings they took of the meeting. Roughly 24 hours after promising me copies, both individuals contacted me and told me that they were unable to send me copies directly, they were also both unwilling to simply tell me what resolution was read according to their recordings. The Mayor and Village Attorney had demanded that all recordings first be sent to them, and demanded that the parties not deal with me directly. The Village told me that they would soon be providing me with a copy of the official recording. I was shocked and outraged, and I had a very heated phone conversation with Robert McKertich and informed him that if he supported Rodney and the Mayor in committing an act of fraud against me, that I would file complaints against him to the BAR association and to the police. Within 24 hours of this conversation, my phone no longer connected to cell phone towers, when people would call, they would hear a ringtone, but my phone would not light up. I believe that someone had cloned my SIM card as some sort of harassment, and to hurt my efforts at determining the truth.

As a last ditch effort, to get to the truth; I knocked on Trustee Earl Hartman’s door and told him what was happening, and asked him to listen to the recording provided to me by the Village Attorney, and compare it with the original of his recordings. Trustee Hartman agreed to do this, and told me that he would call me back and let me know what he found. Hartman never called me back, he never returned my phone calls, and he never returned my recording.

I would become a victim of constant abuse by Village of Owego employees, as well as others with connections to my harassers. I would be arrested on the word of someone who lived next door to the property I was trying to save, a women who I had already proven had filed a false criminal complaint against me, less than a year earlier. I was issued a temporary order of protection preventing me from coming onto the property, and Judge Boland of the Village of Owego Court, refused to allow me to argue against the order of protection, and yelled at me when I simply asked to bring the matter before the court. There was no evidence against me, and charges would eventually be dismissed, but the Village Court postponed giving me any opportunity to argue the order of protection, an order that was used to terrorize me. Code Enforcer James Meade, along with Superintendant of Public Works Jeff Soules, used a Facebook account named “Andy Wilbur” to troll me online. The women who had me falsely arrested would also troll me online, and I was legally barred from commenting back. James Meade was also falsely telling property owners he cited for code violations that I was the one turning them in; this was to turn neighbors against me, and encourage them to report me for violations. I could fill a book with all the stories of harassment I went through during this time.

Despite more letters and phone calls, clearly stating that the resolution declaring my home unsafe as a forged instrument, the Village demolished the historic former mansion, which had been converted into a 4 family home.

Recognizing that the 7 year civil statute of limitations for fraud was fast approaching, in the last two months, I reached out to Earl Hartman and asked him what he found with my recording, and why he never called me back or returned my recording. Earl Hartman claimed that he was told by Robert McKertich that he was not allowed to listen to my recording, and that he and all the other Trustees were not allowed to contact me. McKertich demanded that Hartman send the CD which McKertich had just given to me, back to him; and I was never contacted. Since Hartman was no longer a Village Trustee, he said that he could listen to his recording of the meeting, if he could find it, and that he would let me know what its contents were, and offered me a copy. I would wait, and after roughly two weeks passed, I wrote a letter to the editor calling out the fraud that had been committed against me.

The day that the letter was printed, Hartman would get back to me through email, with a cc to Robert Mckertich, despite the fact that McKertich was no longer the Village Attorney, nor is he Hartman’s personal attorney. Hartman claimed that McKertich had said that the recordings taken by him were Village property and that they would have to be sent to the Village Clerk’s Office, and I could FOIL request and pay for copies. I requested these recordings, and also asked for the official recording, the one that had been provided to me earlier, but the Clerk’s Office claimed that they no longer possessed the official recordings, or the recording that was sent back to McKertich by Hartman.

I would receive a copy of all of the audio recordings taken by Earl Hartman during his long tenure as Village Trustee. All of the files were labeled numerically, using the date, for example October 15, 2012 would be entered as 121015. This was largely universal, except for the September 4, 2012 meeting and another meeting where I raised arguments to the Board. The recording provided to me, shows that at the beginning of the hearing, the resolution from Exhibit B was read. This does not match the minutes from that meeting (Exhibit C), which shows that the resolution from exhibit A was read at the beginning of the meeting and the resolution from exhibit B was read before voting took place. The Village Board would postpone the filing of the official September 4, 2012 meeting minutes until October 15, 2012. At the September 17, 2012 meeting, when it came time to approve the meetings from the 4th, McKertich stated that he has to work with Rodney on some issues and to postpone approving the minutes. Despite this attention by the Village Attorney and Marchewka, the minutes do not match the recording I was provided.

I decided to show up to Earl Hartman’s house, and I presented him with the two resolutions provided to me (Exhibits A and B) and told him that the recording I had been provided showed that Exhibit B had been read at the beginning of the meeting, I asked him what the beginning of his tape revealed. Hartman claimed that in all these years, after all my requests, after recently making a copy of the recordings to send to the Village, and all my public claims of fraud, that he never took the time to listen to the first 2 minutes of the recording. During this conversation, Hartman stated that he was concerned about being sued by McKertich and the Village for helping me. Hartman took copies of Exhibit A and B and once again told me that he would email me, as well as the Village Clerk’s Office, and Robert McKertich, a report showing what he found.

On June 6th, 2018; I finally received an email from Earl Hartman in which he claims to have finally listened to his original of the recording. Earl Hartman claims that the resolution read at the beginning of the meeting is the same resolution read at the beginning of the recording I was given (Exhibit B). I firmly believe that the recording has been edited. I find it unbelievable that I would not remember a resolution being read declaring my house unsafe, and then upon requesting the resolution, would find it to be exactly as I remembered, simply language calling for a hearing. The way in which Robert McKertich and the Mayor fought so hard to prevent me from ever obtaining original copies of any recordings, even from a Village resident, is highly suspicious. They literally demanded that these individuals not send me copies directly, when I had approached these individuals first, and had been offered copies. The fact that the official minutes of the September 4, 2012 meeting contain both Exhibit A as well as Exhibit B and yet the recording only contains the reading of Exhibit B, is also very suspicious. I find it strange that on the recording I was provided, the meetings involving myself are labeled differently than the rest, and yet Hartman claims to have never listened to the first two minutes of the recording; suggesting that someone at the Clerk’s Office may have renamed these files and I believe, edited them.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the resolution (Exhibit B) was not filed within the 5 days required, and was rather signed and filed much later. I repeatedly informed them of this issue, and yet there was no attempt to remedy the error; they would refuse to bring the motion back before the Board. They would continue with the demolition despite my objections.

While the initial act of fraud took place nearly six years ago, so criminal prosecution against some of the players may not be possible, this new recording provided to me could be a fraud in its own right. I was encouraged by Investigator Timothy Schmidt with the Tioga County Sheriff’s Department to submit this complaint, and so I am. Despite all the time that has passed, I hope that it can be possible to expose the fraud that was committed against me.

Joseph Breitwieser

EXHIBIT A

EXHIBIT B

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