Harrisburg, PA – When President Trump announced that he would be celebrating his 100th day in office with the City of Harrisburg, a huge opportunity was afforded to the Capital of Pennsylvania. However, instead of building a strong rapport with the President of the United States, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse instead held a counter-rally against Trump supporters, and said, “I hope that Trump learns from his mistake of calling Harrisburg a warzone.”
Papenfuse went live on national television to express his sentiment, and in the past has admitted to being proud to lead the resistance movement in Harrisburg during a campaign debate in the city.
As he was actively protesting the President in public view, it has been alleged that behind the scenes Papenfuse was engaged in an egregious abuse of power scandal involving a real estate scheme for his own personal enrichment. According the the details of a federal lawsuit, the mayor then targeted city residents that were perceived to be whistleblowers, including an outspoken Trump supporter from Allison Hill. The case is now being heard by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
In particular, the city resident at the center of the federal lawsuit who had his life threatened by the senior advisor to Mayor Papenfuse, alleges that he was repeatedly targeted and excessively fined by city codes enforcement for politically motivated reasons.
The Mayor’s senior advisor, Karl Singleton, was found guilty of making the threat, and immediately removed from office.
Under oath, Former Codes Official Arden Emerick testified to Magisterial District Justice Margeram that he was specifically directed by the mayor to cite the plaintiff of the federal lawsuit.
Growing U.S. Trend: Local governments using fines and outright forfeitures to take control of property and pad their budgets
The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits these excessive fines
The lawsuit implicates city and county officials who used strategic zoning changes as a tool to devalue select real estate parcels, and allegedly used other public departments to target private property owners.
The effect of rezoning in Harrisburg created land use restrictions, increased taxes, and other financial burdens on property owners. This was allegedly done in Allison Hill to devalue real estate, and funnel private property through HRA and CREDC.
The Bureau of Codes administrator also illegally held up building permits against the plaintiff, effectively targeting his livelihood. These tactics are being used to force private property owners out of Allison Hill, as the lawsuit alleges.
The City of Harrisburg has a history of using the Codes Enforcement office as a weapon. It was widely reported in 2014 when the city had a pastor jailed over a church building, a case in which all charges were later dropped.
Pastor Sullivan believes he was actually being targeted by the city for political reasons other than the church. At 48 years-old, the pastor found himself in the hospital as a result of undue stress from the matter.
Also in 2014, early in the first term of Mayor Papenfuse, the City of Harrisburg illegally removed jurisdiction of housing codes violations from the local magistrates, and sent all code violations 45 minutes away to a courtroom in Elizabethville.
Now described as an abuse of power, the court, which Mayor Eric Papenfuse pushed for, enabled the city to push its development agenda on property owners in a struggling city.
A key driver behind the Harrisburg housing court, which was very quietly shut down in 2019 was Bureau of Codes Administrator David Patton. The Housing Court funneled cases for codes outside of Harrisburg City Magisterial District Courts, therefore violating the rights of private property owners in Harrisburg.