LC Auditor John Petalas: Cancel Commissioner’s Tax Sale

Lake County Auditor John Petalas says he met with attorneys today and made clear his desire to cancel all commissioner tax sale certificates issued to ineligible bidders.

Lake County Auditor John Petals Source: lakecountyin.org

September 3, 2019-In light of recent revelations regarding the most recent commissioner’s certificate sale, Lake County Auditor John Petalas is asking attorneys to look into cancelling all purchases by possible ineligible bidders.

Petalas says he first learned of possible irregularities in the sale from a series of articles published over the holiday weekend.  Lauren Cross of the NWI Times demonstrated through public records, video obtained from the County and witnesses that prohibited bidders may have been behind the purchase of hundreds of tracts of land near the proposed casino site in Gary.  State law prohibits individuals, and corporations associated with those individuals, who are delinquent in taxes  from bidding at the Commissioner Certificate Sale where delinquent taxe liens are cleansed from title on the property.

According to public records, Broadway Logistics, LLC purchased hundreds of properties near the proposed casino site.  Most, if not all, of the properties were purchased for just $500 and had no competing bids.  Connected Gary Attorney Rinzer Williams is listed as the registered agent for Broadway Logistics and initially denied that prohibited bidder Thomas Wisniewski was associated with the company according to The Times.  “Williams initially denied to The Times that Wisniewski was involved with Broadway, but video evidence suggests Wisniewski was coordinating bids on behalf of Broadway this past March“ according to the Times article.

Long Standing Issue

Wisniewski has used multiple limited liability corporations to bid at virtually every auction held by the County for the past several years.  At last year’s auction, Little Calumet Greenspace purchased hundreds of parcels in Gary but there is no talk of cancelling any of those sales at this point in time.

We applaud Auditor Petalas for moving decisively on this issue.  It remains to be seen if Wisniewski has powerful friends in the Commissioner’s Office who will intervene on his behalf..

Wisniewski is not the only politically connected individual to abuse the tax process from assessment to sale.  There is MUCH more to come so stay tuned.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?  People often refer to a Commissioner’s Certificate Sale as a tax sale.  It is not.  The Treasurer’s tax sale sells the lien for the full amount of tax due and payable plus fees, penalties and costs.  A bidder must pay at least this amount in order to obtain the lien and then proceed with the foreclosure process.  A Commissioner’s Certificate is sold at an auction with a starting bid of just $500 no matter the amount of the outstanding taxes, penalties and fees.

2 Comments

  1. I am glad that they are proposing to stop this! Another thing they need to look into is the investors using a computer program on the online tax sales, that automatically bump up a bid. Unless you have a computer program to do the same thing, a regular person cannot get a property on the online tax sale. This is unfair to people who are maybe trying to get their first home, and don’t have a chance because of the investors computer program.It bumps the bid so quickly, it is humanly impossible to do it manually quick enough to have a winning bid. I think that they should go back to all in-person bidding, as this is a way to keep it more honest, and fair.

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