Former owner stalls Lighthouse Inn foreclosure

New London - The $1.25 million foreclosure sale of historic Lighthouse Inn has been put on hold after a former owner's 11th-hour claim to personal property led to a delay in Superior Court proceedings Wednesday.

Maureen Clark, who claimed an ownership interest in the century-old inn until its April auction, said in a May 10 email made public through the court that she left "an enormous amount of items" on the property that weren't subject to the foreclosure.

"Some are family items of my grandmother's that I used as props in rooms to accentuate history," she said in the e-mail.

Other items Clark listed in a claim filed Tuesday included silver trays and other silver pieces, Revere copper pots and pans, a chocolate fountain, a stained-glass fireplace screen, framed coins and a picture dating back to 1902 as well as a chest freezer. Two computers, a wide assortment of furniture, seasonal decorations, family pictures and a purse and perfume bottles and glasses that came from Clark's great-grandmother also are being claimed.

"I am the only one that has paid in the most personal money when all abandoned the property," Clark complained in the e-mail. "People come to me to help them off the hook with bad investments, but leave me there ... No longer will I allow others to victimize me in that manner."

Clark, who has been accused of securities fraud in Indiana and tax evasion in Connecticut, could not be reached for comment.

Attorney Narcy Dubicki, who received Clark's claim and forwarded it to the court, arranged for the Lighthouse Inn auction at which businessman Anthony D. Acri III of New Haven outbid first-mortgage holder Business Loan Center.

He said Judge James J. Devine continued the hearing on Clark's claim until June 15 and expected that the former owner and Acri's attorney, Jonathan Berchem of Bercham, Moses & Devlin of Milford, would be holding private meetings to work out an agreement.

Berchem said he would have no comment on pending legal matters.

Meanwhile, Dubicki said, a 30-day deadline for Acri to come up with the balance of payments due for the Lighthouse Inn acquisition is "in hiatus." It is unclear exactly when the $1.15 million Acri owes to complete the deal will be required.

The 9,000-square-foot, 24-room Lighthouse Inn, a landmark building in New London that has hosted countless weddings and celebrations over the years, closed in August 2008.

Clark said in her email that she was surprised the inn brought in so little money at auction. She added that three other groups with which she was working put in higher bids before the auction but were denied the right to buy.

In other court documents, Guthrie Beach Inc. indicated that the Lighthouse Inn as of March 8 had forfeited its rights to use Guthrie Beach on Pequot Avenue. But a subsequent document, filed by the beach association president Amy Perry, said that all rights had been restored to the inn's former owner, McGrath Hotels LLC, as of April 21.

On March 30, two federal tax liens totaling more than $100,000 were filed against McGrath Hotels, according to documents filed at City Hall.

l.howard@theday.com

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