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  • Saucon Voice

Bethlehem Landfill Sues Lower Saucon Township, Council Members Individually

Township Council members Priscilla deLeon President, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro, Laura Ray, Vice President, and new Township Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian, individually in their official capacities, were sued by the Bethlehem Landfill Company. Council members Jason Banonis and Tom Carocci were not named or implicated.

 

bethlehem-landfill-sues-lower-saucon

Before getting started with township business, Council member Jason Banonis explained to the audience that they may have seen council members gathering where executive sessions are usually held. He said, “What took place back there was service of a lawsuit by the Bethlehem Landfill Company against Lower Saucon Township, Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro, Laura Ray, and Steve Goudsouzian."

 

Banonis said based on his initial review of the documents, it appeared the lawsuit stemmed from the potential illegal activity that Township Council took without public discussion or a formal vote. You can read more about that by clicking here.

 

He outlined what he thought the summary of the suit was asking for:

 

  • Declaratory judgement and injunctive relief.

  • Precluding Victoria Opthof-Cordaro from participating in deliberations and voting on matters related to BL, due to her numerous conflicts of interest and prior past biased statements regarding the landfill.

  • $1.1 million of taxpayer money for reimbursement for costs, fees, and other damages incurred.

 

Banonis said he hoped Township Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian would be notifying his legal malpractice insurance carrier about the lawsuits, because “this Township should not be responsible for these fees…and these things that have happened without approval from Council.”

 

Banonis added, “I also believe that this Township should not be paying for the legal fees to represent, defend, and indemnify the perpetrators of all of this.”

 

“They undertook these activities individually and without authority,” Banonis stated. “If they choose to act individually then they need to be able to stand up and defend themselves individually. I expect we’ll be having more conversations about this.”

 

After the lawsuit was revealed, Councilmember Victoria Opthof-Cordaro accused Mr. Banonis of making statements in support of the landfill and having prior knowledge of the lawsuit. “It appears that Mr. Banonis has had whatever this filing is ahead of time…and a prepared statement to discuss whatever is here,” she said.

 

Banonis jumped in, displaying a page of handwritten notes, stating, “where’s my prepared statement? Where’s your evidence that I had this [prior to this evening]?" Banonis went on to claim that he had only first seen the document in interim Township Manager Cathy Gorman’s office prior to the meeting. Banonis asked, “Cathy, did I review this in your office?”, to which Ms. Gorman confirmed, “yes, you did.”

 

The Council meeting then went into a several minute recess before resuming.

 

Councilmember Tom Carocci then said that he hoped those being sued individually by the Bethlehem Landfill would pay for their own legal fees, as “there’s no reason taxpayers should be paying for this illegal activity.”

 

Council President Priscilla deLeon then asked for clarity from interim Solicitor Goudsouzian about the validity of the claims in the lawsuit. He summarized, “where we are right now is we were handed some documents right before the meeting was started. I have not had a chance to review them. I do not know what they say. We will address them in due course.”

 

As it stands, those named in the lawsuit will have twenty days to formally respond to the suit.

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