BENWOOD - Legal troubles for owners of the Bellaire Bridge continue to keep the bridge over water.
The last court action involving the Bellaire Bridge took place on Nov. 13, 2013, when bridge owner Lee Chaklos appeared before federal court in Columbus to face charges of criminal contempt. Judge Algenon Marbley ordered then that briefs in the case be submitted the next month, and he would rule on the case after reviewing the documents.
That was just before Christmas. As Independence Day weekend arrives, there has been no ruling in the case.
"There has been no recent action," Marbley's clerk Allison Stechschulte confirmed last week.
Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell said he and Mayor Ed Kuca walked out onto the bridge last week, and found the decaying span's condition to be worsening. City leaders are especially concerned that concrete from the bridge - closed since 1991 - could fall and possibly strike persons or property below.
"We're kind of curious why no decision by the court, and surprised there has been no decision," Longwell said. "No matter what decision, it's a criminal contempt case and a ruling still doesn't help (to bring demolition to the bridge). The deck is really becoming treacherous to walk on."
Charges of criminal contempt were brought by the court after Chaklos allegedly failed to disclose to the court liens against the bridge that collectively total $2,126,400. These liens include obligations to DAC Audit Services of Clarkston, Mich. of $800,000; RFK Enterprises of New Castle, Pa.. for $1,206,400; and Scrap Dynamics Corp. of Aurora, Ohio, for $100,000.
Chaklos has been advised by attorneys not to comment on the case. One of his past attorneys - Jeremy Domozick of Virginia Beach - is among those seeking payment from him through separate Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings filed in March.
Chaklos and his wife, Krystal, must soon liquidate all the assets of their company, the Delta Demolition Group Inc. The Chakloses, though, own the bridge through another company, KDC Investments.