Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Purchase Of McDermott's Million-Dollar Home At Tax Sale Turning Heads

Former Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Sr., father of Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr., saw his million dollar home in Crown Point's gated Morningside community auctioned at a tax sale yesterday for delinquent property taxes. While the delinquent taxes amounted to $133,000, which had accumulated over a period of several years, the buyer at the tax sale paid $1.6 million to get the tax deed to the home. County tax records list the home's assessed value at $1,261,000. Local officials tell the Northwest Indiana Times they've never seen a delinquent property sold at such a premium before.
"I don't remember any home being sold for that kind money," [Lake Co. Treasurer John] Petalas said. He has been overseeing such sales since 2006. Former Treasurer Peggy Katona said no such amount was bid in the previous eight years she conducted sales,
McDermott served as Hammond mayor from 1984 to 1992. He is the father of current Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.
Petalas said the elder McDermott has been unable to pay his full annual property tax bills, which amounted to more than $21,000 this year, for several years.
Petalas said the home hadn't gone up for tax sale until this year because of McDermott filing lengthy appeals of the house's tax assessment, listed in county records at $1,261,000. Petalas said the elder McDermott was put on an installment plan, but didn't complete the payments.
So just who would pay a premium to own the tax deed to McDermott's home? The buyer has been identified as LTNO, LLC. According to the Secretary of State records, LTNO was created on July 18, 2012. Its registered business address is 1000 E. 80th Place, Suite #700, Merrillville, Indiana. According to the Times, that's the same address that is used by Bruce White's Whiteco Industries, which was the developer of the gated Morningside community where McDermott's home is located. Jason Weisler, a Merrillville attorney, is listed as the registered agent at that address. The Indiana Roll of Attorneys identifies Weisler as an attorney at White/Peterman Properties, Inc. Weisler told the Times that he's not affiliated with Whiteco. Hmmm.

McDermott has until September, 2015 to reclaim his property by paying his delinquent tax bill with interest. The overpayment of $1,488,598 would be refunded to LTNO; however, if McDermott doesn't reclaim his property, the overpayment after paying all outstanding taxes, interests, mortgage and other liens of record will be paid to McDermott. Interest on the delinquency is accumulating at the rate of $204 a day according to the Times. Petalas told the Times that "overpayments are normal in tax sales, but not this amount of money." Old-timers will recall that the elder McDermott was a Republican, unlike his son, who was elected as a Democratic mayor. The billionaire Dean White family contributes heavily to the Republican Party and its candidates. McDermott, Sr. spoke admiringly of Dean White in a March 8, 2012 story on his life in the Times:
Former Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott Sr. said White is exceedingly generous.
"Whenever someone has a fundraiser, he's always been No. 1 on the charity hit list," McDermott said. "I know because I'm the one that usually asks."
Indeed, the Dean and Barbara White Foundation supports a wide variety of local causes, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, universities and hospitals, as well as the Indiana State Museum and the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance.
"He is a visionary who sees things most other people don't and has the courage and willingness to back it up with his own investment dollars," McDermott added.
White is described as a humble, good-natured, approachable workaholic who still finds work fun. McDermott said his friend refuses to be lured from his homegrown roots and is not done leaving his footprints on Northwest Indiana . . .
"He still goes into the office every day, telling his staff what he's going to do next. He's just a regular guy who sits in the same seat at the restaurant every morning reading the paper with his cup of coffee.
"You know how he'll be remembered? As a real nice guy that did well -- and never forgot where he came from," McDermott said.

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