November 24, 2014

Elyria
Partly sunny with showers
60°F
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Possible misuse of flood money probed

LORAIN — Lorain police are investigating whether money distributed by the city through a loan program for flooding victims on the west side was handled properly.

City Law Director Mark Provenza said Wednesday that allegations about possible wrongdoings came to his attention Monday and he forwarded them to police.

Provenza would not discuss specifics about those allegations, and police and other city officials remained tight-lipped as well.
“Police are reviewing some of the files that deal with the loan program,” he said.

The zero percent loan program was created by City Council after a sewer line collapsed after heavy rainstorms on Old Lake Road last November. More than 40 homes were damaged by the flooding.

The maximum loan amount that could be taken out by homeowners was $28,313 per unit, which means some property owners and at least one condo association took out several loans for different properties that it owned.

Lorain police Sgt. Mark Carpentiere, who is heading the investigation, would not disclose the details of the investigation, which other sources say center around whether Old Lake Road resident Don Buchs was eligible to participate in the program and whether he received too much for the property in question.

Buchs applied for and received the maximum loan amount for two properties at 302 and 306 Old Lake Road, according to city planner Don Romancak.

One is a $200,000 house down the street from Lake Erie, while the other is a nearby brick building and garage next to the city’s Sewer Department. Both are owned by a company called Old Lake Properties, according to county auditor records.

Buchs is the owner of All American Demolition and has done more than $300,000 worth of work for the city since 2000, according to records from the city auditor’s office.

Most of that work was done for the Community Development Department, whose responsibility it is to ensure the validity of all loan applications.

Buchs could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.