Three corporations controlled by real estate investor Koray Ergur were found liable today in the foreclosure trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court of the downtown Spitzer Building.
Judge Gary Cook issued a directed verdict against the entities - Ergur Private Equity LLC, EPC Spitzer Building LLC, and Ergur Holdings LLC - which are defendants in the foreclosure action by the Spitzer Building Co.
The ruling leaves Judge Cook to determine what Mr. Ergur, who is the personal guarantor on the building's $800,000 bank note, could owe in outstanding loans, interest, and maintenance costs.
Mr. Ergur bought the nearby Nicholas Building in 2008 and the Spitzer Building in April, 2009. He contends that the Spitzer Building was operating at a profit and he is owed money if the property is auctioned at a sheriff's sale.
Scott Ciolek, the attorney for the Spitzer Building Co., requested the judgment against the companies after the completion of his case in the trial. Judge Cook granted Mr. Ciolek's motion, agreeing that evidence and testimony supported the foreclosure because the loan, taxes, and other expenses had not been paid.
Judge Cook last week ordered the foreclosure on the Spitzer and Nicholas buildings to collect $444,198 in unpaid property taxes.
After the ruling, Mr. Ergur, the owner of a San Francisco private equity group, began presenting his case. He does not have an attorney and is representing himself.
Judge Cook listened for nearly an hour to Mr. Ergur's statement, which seemed to be an outline of the steps he took to buy and finance the building.
At one point, Mr. Ciolek raised objections to the line of testimony as irrelevant but the judge allowed the defendant to continue.
Judge Cook continued the trial to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when Mr. Ergur will resume presenting his case. He is expected to be the only defense witness.
Earlier today, Patrice Spitzer, who was appointed receiver after the Spitzer Building Co. foreclosed on the property in January, 2011, stepped down from the witness stand after answering questions from Mr. Ergur.
On numerous occasions, Judge Cook instructed Mr. Ergur that he had to follow established courtroom rules in asking questions of Mrs. Spitzer, and at one point he warned that he was very close to finding him in contempt.
"Either follow the rules or risk being held in contempt," the judge cautioned.
Included in the testimony was the exchange of emails that began in 2009 between Mr. Ergur and her late husband, Lyman Spitzer, who died in January, 2011, shortly before the foreclosure was filed.
Mrs. Spitzer seemed to well up with tears as she recalled Mr. Spitzer's frustrated dealings with Mr. Ergur.
"He was a gentleman. He took you at your word. He tried to help you. He believed you and you sucked the life out of him. You called him every night....if you had let him help you and sell these buildings he said you could pay your debts and probably walk away with a little money. But you were too greedy," she testified.
When asked by Mr. Ergur why she thinks he is a "bad man", Mrs Spitzer ran up a list of the problems and difficulities that Mr. Ergur's actions created in the Spitzer and Nicholas buildings and for the employees and tenants.
"You are a terrible businssman. You did not take care of your business. You bought two buildings that you obviously could not afford. You made promises you couldn't keep," she said. "You should have gone away a long time ago, and you didn't. So now we are here, once again, wasting everybody's time."