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Peck’s financial troubles continue

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GOUVERNEUR — St. Lawrence County Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur, hopes to ease some of his continuing financial problems by selling his auction house before a lender forecloses on it.

Gouverneur Savings & Loan Association has filed a summons to foreclose on a mortgage it holds on five acres on Cream of the Valley Road, which includes the building where Mr. Peck used to have auctions. Sale of the property is expected to take place in July, said Mr. Peck, who would not identify the potential buyer or the sale price.

He said the building has been on the market for several years. Mr. Peck typically holds his auctions at the Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

Mr. Peck took out mortgages from the savings and loan on the Cream of the Valley Road property in 2005 for $80,000, in 2006 for $50,000, and in 2007 for $15,000. He signed a promissory note June 1, 2012, doing business as Don Peck Auctions, that he would pay the savings and loan in 59 equal payments $974.30 monthly with a final installment of $82,988.58 on June 1, 2017. The total due, according to papers filed with the county Clerk’s Office is $101,903.05, with an interest rate of 11.25 percent from Nov. 1.

On May 22, Gouverneur Savings & Loan filed a summons to foreclose the mortgage.

Listed with Mr. Peck as part of the foreclosure action are the state Department of Taxation and Finance, the Internal Revenue Service, and the town of Gouverneur.

Last summer, the state seized Mr. Peck’s bank accounts for nonpayment of sales tax from the early 1990s. At the time, Mr. Peck said interest and penalties inflated the amount owed to more than $500,000.

“I haven’t heard a word from them,” he said.

Tax Department spokesman Cary B. Ziter said Mr. Peck still owes the state money for personal income tax and sales tax.

“The total existing warranted assessment amount on Mr. Peck and his business, Peck’s Auction Barn in Gouverneur, is $263,212,” he wrote in an email. “Two warrants from 1992 have expired. The privacy provisions in the Tax Law prohibit us from providing additional details.”

Mr. Peck filed for bankruptcy in 1994 after Jefferson National Bank failed, and he was unable to find another lending institution that would carry the $566,000 he had in outstanding loans. Mr. Peck had worked out a five-year repayment plan with the bank, which itself became overextended. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which seized the bank’s assets when it closed in 1993, called in his loans.

Any sales tax Mr. Peck’s business owed would not be discharged by bankruptcy.

Later, Mr. Peck formed a separate corporation, Auctions Plus. Mr. Peck, who is vice chairman of the Board of Legislators, now runs his auction business under Don Peck Auctions.

The IRS has an $11,231.90 lien against Mr. Peck for employee payroll taxes due for the period Sept. 30, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011. It was filed Jan. 15.

Mr. Peck said the lien will be released so the auction house property can be sold.

The town is a party to the foreclosure because Mr. Peck borrowed $35,000 in 2009 as part of the town’s microenterprise revolving loan program. The bank has the first mortgage on the property and the town the second, Supervisor Robert R. Ritchie said.

Mr. Peck’s last payment of $475 to the town was April 30. He owes the town $17,600.

“I’m just waiting to see what happens,” Mr. Ritchie said.

Collateral for the 2012 promissory note with the savings and loan included the previous $80,000 and $50,000 mortgages, a loader, van, car hauler trailer, and the inventory associated with Mr. Peck’s variety store on Main Street.

The variety store closed several weeks ago when the person operating it for him took another job, Mr. Peck said.

“I don’t have anybody to run it,” he said. “I’ll probably sell the inventory and just focus on auctions.”

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