Coppler Foreclosure Complaint
Breaking News & Analysis
A Cool Justice Report Exclusive:
No Payments On Batavia, NY House
Since November 2006
Coppler, Popular & Generally Accessible,
Considered A Sympathetic Figure In Town
His Confidential Mortgage Information
From Another Bank, Enfield Federal, Was Leaked
During That Bank's Tax Break Talks With Town
Was A Legitimate Inquiry Made
To Enfield Federal By A Regulator?
Vulnerable, Is Coppler Being Used As A Pawn
By Those Who Dispatched His Predecessor?
By ANDY THIBAULT
And JIM BREWER
The Cool Justice Report
July 19, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Court records say the Enfield town manager has failed to pay his mortgage on a Batavia, NY house since November 2006. The mortgage holder for the New York house is M&T Bank of Buffalo.
A foreclosure action against the manager, Matthew Coppler, was filed in Genesee County Supreme Court on June 12, 2007.
The complaint alleges Coppler owes a principal balance on the house at 18 Thomas Ave. of $80,244.89, along with interest accruing since Nov. 1, 2006. The original mortgage was for $84,532 in March 2002.
The assessed market value of the home was reported in 2006 at $89,200. The house, built in 1910, has three bedrooms, one bathroom and a detached garage.
Also owed, the complaint alleges, are monies advanced for taxes, insurance and maintenance.
Coppler started working in Enfield on July 1, 2006 at a salary of $119,000. He holds a Master's in Public Administration and a Bachelor's Degree in political science from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Coppler is married and has several children.
He served as Batavia city manager before coming to Enfield. Before serving Batavia, Coppler was city manager for Gallipolis and Louisville, Ohio.
As Enfield town manager, Coppler is the town's top administrator, overseeing an annual budget of about $40 million. He also is involved in confidential discussions about town business including negotiations for tax breaks.
Strangely and / or coincidentally, Coppler's confidential mortgage information regarding a separate mortgage - on his Enfield house - was leaked last month as the town negotiated with Enfield Federal Savings over a tax break.
Enfield Federal's president stated in a memo that the bank must respond to legitimate requests from a regulator. Was such a request made to the bank by a regulator or other legitimate source?
"I'm not going to answer that question," the bank president, David O'Connor told The Cool Justice Report today.
So, that question remains, along with many others, including whether the dissemination of Coppler's confidential mortgage information to his employer was something nefarious or perhaps just odd timing.
Despite intense lobbying and pressure, the tax break for Enfield was not granted. Sources said the negotiations focused on the Enfield Federal's failure to produce about 40 promised jobs in town.
While there were not enough votes on the town council to support the Enfield Federal deal, the council did grant a tax abatement to another business, Precision Camera and Video Repair Inc. That tax break was reported by daily papers, while the unsuccessful attempt by Enfield Federal was not.
"It [Enfield Federal] was pulled from the agenda for one last shot," a source said.
Enfield Federal President O'Connor acknowledged there was a problem with the release of Coppler's confidential bank information, but denied any responsibility for anything that might have been inappropriate. In a memo on the subject obtained by The Cool Justice Report, O'Connor did not note any corrective action that might be taken to protect those who do business with his bank. It remains unclear who leaked the information - which was given to the town council - or why the information was leaked.
It was a curious development in the midst of an ongoing investigation in Enfield by the Public Integrity and Political Corruption Bureau of the Chief State's Attorney's office.
Here's the O'Connor memo:
... I am forwarding this email regarding inappropriate information being stated in Cool Justice Blog.
The bank values its reputation on protecting customer privacy. In 91 years we have never been accused of violating this principle.
Enfield Federal Saving is a Federally Regulated Bank. As such, EFS is required to respond to any legitimate signed requests that are made to our Regulator.
The "anonymous" person or persons doing so in this Blog are some of the most cowardly individuals who are never held accountable for destroying individuals and corporate reputations. We feel what has happened to Matt is most unfortunate, but this information has not been disseminated by Enfield Federal Savings.
We are disappointed that because of the partnership we have established with the Town, Enfield Federal Saving is being accused of a wrong doing solely through some political or personal motivation. We value our relationship with the Town of Enfield. We look forward to helping in any way possible to resolving this issue.
David J. O'Connor
President & Chief Executive Officer
Enfield Federal Savings/
New England Bancshares, Inc.
During the Enfield Federal tax break talks, Coppler confirmed he has a mortgage with Enfield Federal, but said he had not been a negotiator regarding the tax abatement.
"I am an intermediary between the council and the bank," Coppler told The Cool Justice Report.
Coppler was at work Wednesday but did not return calls to his office during the day or to his home at night. Additional messages were left for Coppler today, but he did not respond. He is scheduled to have a coffee and conversation meeting for residents from 9 to 10 a.m. on July 26. The meeting will be in the second-floor conference room at the North Thompsonville Fire Station at 439 Enfield St.
Bank Vice President Scott Nogles has said he could not comment on the job numbers related to the tax abatement or explain how Coppler's confidential mortgage information was leaked during the negotiations.
"I thought it was pretty funny," a customer told The Cool Justice Report. "How about the timing on that?"
The Enfield Federal property was developed by Big Anthony Troiano, the politically connected foe of the Enfield Montessori School. The bank sits on a parcel that was deemed unsuitable for development when another businessman tried to sell the land to CVS. Information about the series of land deals and related actions by Enfield officials has come under scrutiny by law enforcement officials.
Enfield Mayor Patrick Tallarita - among the subjects of the political corruption investigation by the Chief State's Attorney - has recused himself from official discussions on the Enfield Federal tax break. At the same time, sources said, Tallarita has lobbied council members to keep the issue quiet.
at Enfield Federal Savings
Photo by Jim Brewer
One relatively new employee at Enfield Federal is Tallarita's sister, state Rep. Kathy Tallarita. She was hired last summer as Business Development Representative for the bank and featured in Enfield Federal promotional material during her re-election campaign.
Sources said other council members have business and / or personal relationships with the bank.
Coppler is well-liked by council members. Townspeople describe him as forthright and accessible.
He got the job after town counsel and public safety director Christopher Bromson served as interim town manager.
Scott Shanley, the former town manager, was fired in a power play by the current town council after serving Enfield for 10 years. Shanley now works as town manager in Manchester.
Officials who worked with Shanley in Enfield said he is strong-willed and has an expansive knowledge of town business and politics.
"Shanley is a fountain of information, but he doesn't want to talk because he doesn't want anyone messing with his pension," a source said.
Reached last fall by The Cool Justice Report, Shanley would only say he was very happy to be in Manchester, adding, "I wish the community [of Enfield] well."
State corruption investigators have received numerous tips and documents about public officials and others in recent months. Areas of inquiry in the criminal investigation include but are not limited to:
* Alleged sale of government services including votes for personal gain.
* Alleged manipulation or alteration of land records.
* Alleged steering of a lease to a crony.
* Work allegedly done by a state contractor at a private residence.
* Alleged acceptance of gratuities including vacation trips and merchandise.
* Alleged falsification of time records by town employees working less than full shifts.