Germantown spite-blight defendant tells judge he sold property — to his daughter

On Dec. 6, the last time Anthony Byrne appeared in Judge Bradley K. Moss’s courtroom for a hearing in the long-running property violations case against him, there was apparently one little detail he forgot to bring up.

“I probably should have mentioned it — I sold the property on Nov. 1, 2012,” Byrne told the judge Thursday, at the latest hearing, blaming his forgetfulness on medications and various illnesses.

Byrne, who has gone it alone in court for several months since firing the latest of a series of lawyers over the case’s three-year history, gave the judge a deed showing a transfer of the property to Deirdre Siobhan Byrne, who lives in Phillipsburg, NJ.

Attempts to reach new owner

There was no telephone contact information for Deirdre Byrne listed on the deed transfer form, and she could not be reached for comment. The elder Byrne told the judge he expected his daughter wouldn’t be an owner in name only and would be actively involved.

City attorney Ed Jefferson said he will attempt to contact her, and the judge said he would subpoena her to appear at a later hearing.

“Somebody’s got to get actively involved in this property and to take on the role of doing what needs to be done,” the judge said.

Property condition as was

Meanwhile, there was little movement on the substance of the property maintenance case against Byrne, which was brought by the city Historical Commission.

After 16 hearings since 2010, the case had seemed to be limping toward a conclusion, with the restoration of the house’s dormers the only issue left.

At the December hearing, Judge Moss added to the fines against Byrne, which now total more than $40,000, and ordered him to have work done on the dormers by Thursday’s court date.

Byrne said he tried to contact five different contractors, could only get an estimate from one of them, and then couldn’t reach them to hire them.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 26 before Judge Moss. Byrne declined to comment for this story.

Neighbor reaction

Julie Baranauskas, who lives in the house next door to Byrne’s stone manse, attended the latest hearing hoping it might be the last.

She said Byrne has tried various property-ownership tactics in the past to delay cases against him and wondered if the sale is even legal.

“I was under the impression that indebitures had to be settled before a transfer of property, but perhaps this is one of those special Byrne things, where you and I have to follow the law, but not he,” she said.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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