WATERLOO — A judge listened to arguments Tuesday in a property dispute involving a man running for Congress.
Acting State Supreme Court Judge Daniel Doyle heard from William “Casey” McDonald and an attorney representing Sandra Sullivan and Henry William Sullivan III, the latter who is known as Mike. McDonald and the Sullivans dispute who owns a house on Rumsey Street in Seneca Falls.
McDonald, of Romulus, plans to challenge Congressman Tom Reed, R-23 of Corning, in a Republican primary next year.
Attorney David Benz said the Sullivans were the home’s owner starting in 2007, explaining that they entered into a contract with McDonald in 2012 for the Rumsey Street home and other properties the Sullivans own.
“The idea was to (have McDonald) purchase the property based on its value, minus obligations,” Benz said.
Benz said McDonald claimed to pay the Sullivans more than $44,000, plus about $16,000 in expenses. His clients deny those payments were made.
Benz also argued that while his clients admitted signing papers, they do not remember signing a deed over to McDonald, adding that the deed was not filed.
“My clients assert that deed is not legitimate,” Benz said. “At the end of the day, they argue that is their property.”
McDonald, who is not an attorney but spoke on his own behalf, showed the original deed to Doyle. He said he did not file it.
In addition to the more than $44,000 he paid the Sullivans, McDonald told the judge he paid other bills for the Sullivans and their mother, including car payments, car insurance, and utility bills.
“The fact of the matter was this family was destitute,” McDonald said. “All their properties were in foreclosure except the Rumsey Street property. They filed for bankruptcy, but it was dismissed. I paid them more than $44,000, and they also accepted cash and payments ... so they could save the house they were living in.”
Since 2012, McDonald claimed he had been collecting rent on the property, and it was only earlier this year that the Sullivans said they still owned the property.
“It’s been seven years since they began this action,” McDonald said. “They treated me as the owner every step of the way.”
While Doyle acknowledged McDonald had been operating the property for more than six years, Benz argued that almost $30,000 is owed in property taxes. McDonald said he has been making the minimum tax payments each year.
“At this point, they can have the property back if they pay the back taxes,” McDonald said. “They want to have their cake and eat it too. If they wish to be out from under the taxes, give me the property.”
Doyle said he will rule on the arguments soon.
“There are a lot of factual disputes here,” the judge said.