Despite no longer owning the dilapidated Union Street, Sag Harbor home in question, Annselm Morpurgo has won part of an appeal in the United States Eastern District Court that will allow her to seek monetary damages in a civil rights case against some 20 members of the village —including mayor Greg Ferraris, former mayor Ed Deyermond, the village building department, village building inspector Timothy Platt, the Suffolk County Water Authority, the John Jermain Memorial Library and the JJML Future Fund, the Sag Harbor Village Police and chief Thomas Fabiano. Her own sister, Helga, and her attorney Andrew Towner, Esq. are also named in the suit.
Morpurgo, who lost the suit last year, is seeking some $100 million in damages and this week urged village officials to settle with her and help her in her quest to turn the aging Morpurgo home into a multi-unit, commercial Sagg Harbour Art Center or allow her to revive what she claims is a historic militia lodge and operate the property as an inn.
Â While the home was sold, via court ordered auction for $1.46 million in November of 2007 to Captain Hulbert House LLC — a limited liability corporation — Morpurgo said on Tuesday that she is still fighting to vacate the sale of the property and return it to herself and her not-for-profit organization, the Savant Garde Institute.
“This means I can continue the lawsuit in federal court where I am suing for $100 million,” Morpurgo said on Tuesday. “This will run up a lot of money in legal bills unless we can settle this matter, and now, I can afford to fight it.”
Morpurgo split 75 percent of the proceeds of the court-ordered auction with her sister, Helga, with the remaining 25 percent held in escrow until a court decides whether Morpurgo’s institute in fact has a legitimate claim to the monies.
The home has been the subject of a decades-long battle between the Morpurgo sisters over the sale of the property, once the home of their parents.
In the original suit – one of many Morpurgo has filed in connection with the residence – she charged that village officials and police worked in concert and/or conspiracy with the private interests of neighbors, predatory real estate developers and her own sister to force the sale of the home at an unreasonable price. The John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees and its Future Fund were named in the suit as the library once sought to purchase the property for an expansion project.
Morpurgo also charged that a number of code violations, levied on the property when she was an owner, in February of 2006, were issued in an effort to condemn the property and force her eviction.
Following the court-ordered sale of the property, Morpurgo and two tenants were asked several times to leave the premises before finally packing their bags under the threat of eviction.
Morpurgo noted attorney George Guldi’s involvement as attorney for the unnamed buyers of the Union Street home as the impetus for her belief that mortgage fraud may be a factor in the sale of the home. Guldi, a former county legislator, and three other attorneys, are accused of securing some $50 million in fraudulent mortgages on Long Island, although it remains to be seen if the Morpurgo home was part of the alleged scam.
“Right now it is in limbo,” alleged Morpurgo. “They have not paid property taxes and there is a question of mortgage fraud … At this point it is a matter for the courts to decide.”