By DON AINES
2:10 PM AKST, December 7, 2012
A Washington County Circuit Court judge on Friday denied former Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II’s motion to vacate a confessed judgment on a loan he co-signed in 2008.
Bruchey said he co-signed a $60,000 loan from Biltrite Homes Corp. with Michael Griffith, who later declared bankruptcy. Judge Daniel P. Dwyer denied the motion during a hearing Friday.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” the judge said, echoing a comment made earlier in the hearing by Edward Kuczynski, the attorney for Vincent Groh, president of Biltrite Homes.
“Mr. Griffith appears to have left Mr. Bruchey holding the bag,” Dwyer said.
Judge John H. McDowell signed the confessed judgment in August. The motion was filed by Biltrite Homes stating that the former mayor owed more than $80,000 in principle, interest and legal fees, court records said.
A reduction in the legal fees from a flat percentage to an hourly rate lowered the figure to $79,563.14 as of Friday, Bruchey said after the hearing.
Bruchey’s challenges to the judgment included that its affidavit had no explanation of the history of payments or tally of fees to determine if the amount sought was correct. His appeal also challenged the accuracy of the legal fees.
Bruchey, who represented himself at the hearing, said he co-signed the loan as a favor to Griffith, the former owner of Hagerstown Motors, to help him keep the now-defunct business open. Griffith was unable to get a small business loan, he said.
Bruchey told Dwyer that a property Griffith still owns on Avon Road was collateral for the loan.
Groh was unfamiliar with Griffith and wanted him to co-sign the loan, Bruchey said.
Kuczynski told Dwyer there was no evidence presented by Bruchey to vacate the confessed judgment and that his relationship with Griffith was irrelevant to his owing the debt.
“It’s certainly a significant impediment to proceeding against Mr. Griffith,” Kuczynski said after the hearing when asked about collecting from Griffith after he declared bankruptcy.
A confessed judgment allows a creditor to tap into a range assets that the borrower has, including garnishment of wages or money in bank accounts, Kuczynski said.
Afterward, Bruchey said he had figured Groh would take the Avon Road property if the loan went into default.
“Otherwise, I would not have signed the note,” he said.
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