McKees Rocks cracks down on LLC shell games
112 Helen Street, McKees Rocks
By Elizabeth Perry
The McKees Rocks Borough Council refused a request to buy a property through the Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery program at a June meeting.
Reason being, the applicant did not disclose the properties he already owned in violation of the rules and actively tried to obscure ownership through the use of Limited Liability Corporations.
Megan Turnbull, McKees Rocks solicitor, said the council voted against the purchase of 112 Helen St. because the applicant wasn’t “square” for the other properties they own.
“The person has not fulfilled his obligations with other housing he has in the town, meaning taxes and other things,” said Archie Brinza, council president.
Gazette 2.0 acquired the application through a freedom of information act request.
McKees Rocks resident, Randall S. Williams II applied for the Helen Street Property stating his intention was to fix up the building there.
The program allows individuals to buy blighted places from the municipality through an application process. Applicants have to demonstrate a concrete plan to revitalize the spaces and must prove they’re able to carry out their plans.
Turnbull said the applicant did not identify all the properties he owned in the borough and possibly other places, which is a requirement.
She added that some spaces on the application were left blank.
On the Helen Street application, the applicant claims to own only one existing property on Chartiers, and as Turnbull said, some of the pages were not filled out.
Williams denied having unresolved tax issues and said he did fill out an application for a property, but hadn’t been aware the application was rejected. He denied owning other property that wasn’t listed on the application.
“It doesn’t ring a bell. I did reach out to them and it was under an entity that I own and that entity doesn’t own any other property,” Williams said.
According to public records, Williams married Toccarra Lynn Stanley on March 12 of this year.
Stanley owns a house on Brisk Street in Stowe which wasn’t listed on the application.
Williams and Stanley both have limited liability corporations filed in their names. Williams heads RW Capital, LLC and Stanley is listed as owner of Willstan Holdings, LLC. RW Capital, LLC was listed on the Helen Street application.
Williams heads an organization called Recovery Support Worx Co. headquartered at a building on Catherine Street, McKees Rocks, owned by Willstan Holdings, LLC., and RW Capital is based out of the same Catherine Street address.
The Catherine Street house was not listed as being owned by Williams.
On the top of the second page of the application, there is a box that states: “Please identify the address and Block and Lot number of all property that you own in Allegheny County. Including property owned individually, jointly, or owned by any entity (LLC, corporation, partnership, etc.) in which you have an interest.”
“LLCs are also required to complete Organizational Ownership and Ownership Disclosure forms,” said Amie Downs, director of communications for Allegheny County.
In addition to the issues with disclosing ownership of property, the Helen Street application had estimates for the cost of repairs that seemed overly optimistic. The repairs would have gone through Williams’ company Key to the City Contracting.
Listed among improvements for the building were replacing the roof, windows (as needed), exterior doors, electrical boxes, outlets, boiler, hot water tank, plumbing, kitchen cabinets, kitchen countertops, bathroom fixtures, vinyl flooring, stoves in two units, refrigerators in two units and the installation of a coin-operated washer and dryer for an estimated $34,365 in labor, fees and materials.
The total purchase price of the Helen Street property would’ve been $46,780 before repairs.
Turnbull said turning down applicants wasn’t something the council wanted to do – another applicant was approved that same night – but felt in the case of the Helen Street property, it was prudent. It is the municipality’s job to be thorough, Turnbull said during a phone conference with Gazette 2.0 and Brinza.
“If we were mistaken, or anyone disagreed with our determination there is always recourse and due process,” Turnbull said.
“We want to work with residents and we want to do things the correct way,” Brinza said.