Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tony Ceoffe: Aiding Known Property Scofflaws? *

Several readers have been pitching to the Comet what I find to be credible, noteworthy information regarding Lawrenceville United, the at-times controversial community group.

Tony Ceoffe, presently a candidate for District Magistrate in that area, has been its leader and primary executor for the last four and a half years.

Mr. Ceoffe initially returned a telephone call on this matter, but upon learning more about my blog, responded, "I'm not interested in this". I have since left voicemail messages outlining the specific questions that concerned me without further response.

Most of the issues have to do with property sales by L.U. to persons or companies who would ordinarily be disqualified from purchasing City properties -- for reasons of having track records that should make Lawrenceville residents nervous in their own right.

1) Hitchy LLC: John Quinlan. Properties at issue: 138 & 140 43rd St. Known problems: Lost three previous Lawrenceville properties at sheriff's sale; suits brought against him by two banks and the city's URA; adjoining properties owned at 142 & 144 43rd St. left essentially abandoned and unsecured until condemned and torn down by the City. Additionally, back-taxes were owed on the property at 138 & 140 before being purchased by L.U. in September of 2008 yet seem never to have been cleared.

2) Wylie Holdings: Joe Edelstein. Properties at issue: 5168 Butler St; 5165, 5167 & 5169 Dresden Way. Known problems: Non-compliance with city building and zoning codes and associated liens, and in at least one case, a judge's order; failure to pay back loans and misrepresentations on loan applications exposed by Team 4. *-UPDATE: Not entirely incidentally, disgraced development czar Pat Ford was accorded a Wylie-owned appartment in Lawrenceville upon returning to Pittsburgh.

3) Earth Vendor Capital. Property at issue: 167 1/2 Almond Way. Known problems: All twelve of its properties in Allegheny County are tax-delinquent, ten of which are actually in Lawrenceville.

There may be other items of interest involving the above mentioned properties -- queer L.U. purchase and resale value discrepancies, for example -- or other issues entirely. If my readers / sources would like to highlight those, they are welcome to do so in the comments. Just please obey my rules.


Tony Ceoffe was the subject of a long, in-depth profile in the City Paper almost three years ago. Most of it made him sound like a genuine community hero.

And, increasingly, he's becoming a political heavyweight as well, at least at the neighborhood level. In the May primary, two of the five wards in his voting district elected a pair of Ceoffes as Democratic committeepeople: Tony, his wife Theresa, father Tony senior and sister Lisa. (CP, Marty Levine)

I feel like this is where problems began to arise.

As Ceoffe's successes and notoriety grew, he channeled more of his considerable energy into politics -- through the local Democratic committee, just as the Ravenstahl-Zober-Ford-Ferlo megacomplex was really coming into its own, such that unduly creative and aggressive dealmaking practices were becoming a big part of being a political high-roller.

There's no doubt Ceoffe has been effective in certain respects for Lawrenceville. Yet it looks like he has made some significant compromises and questionable calls as well -- without yet having gone through much of a semblance of accountability.

I don't feel like his set of strengths and weaknesses match up well with what I think of as being required in a judge. One wants one's judges to be scrupulously cognizant of the law, of process, and of the ramifications to others of taking risks -- being a "community guy" comes in second or third.

Ironically, his passion and his community roots suggest possibly that he'd make a better Member of Council. I don't mean to hasten Councilman Dowd's accountability moment with his future students, but that contest in two years would be a reporter's dream come true. Besides, a race for a legislative position is a little more free-wheeling; we would learn more about Mr. Ceoffe and better vet his record in such a contest.


  1. This guy sounds worse then Matt H.

  2. Luke gave 3 members of Tony's family high paying jobs too!

  3. we all know tony ceoffeMay 17, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. ceoffe gives lawrenceville to the slumlords, with help of public funding. nice.

  5. Wylie Holdings: Joe Edelstein. Properties at issue: 5168 Butler St; 5165, 5167 & 5169 Dresden Way. Known problems: Non-compliance with city building and zoning codes and associated liens, and in at least one case, a judge's order; failure to pay back loans and misrepresentations on loan applications exposed by Team 4. *-UPDATE: Not entirely incidentally, disgraced development czar Pat Ford was accorded a Wylie-owned appartment in Lawrenceville upon returning to Pittsburgh.Don't forget to highlight the fact that that Joe Edelstein is a convicted felon (medicare FRAUD) who has received close to half a million dollars of our (taxpayers) money courtesy of Yarone Zober, Jimmy Ferlo and Pat Ford. (The URA of Pittsburgh).

  6. Commenter 'we all know tony ceoffe' wrote at 10:53:

    "hitchy is a friend of lenny bodack he got these properties from tony ceoffe that he bought threw lv at more money and sold to hitchy for a lower price. there are a lot more he and his bother mike are buying a lot of properties. under the name MTCP.LLC AND FIXING THEM WITH OUT BUILDING PERMITS.AND ALL THE TAX BILLS ARE GOING MIKE CEOFFE HOUSE ON MAIN ST.look it up aother property lu sold to gary noftz at 246 ater way a big ceoffe supporter. his hole family are criminals his dad tony sr. stole lbs of butter from are senior citizens. took it to ohio and sold them and got caught and had to repay the state $16.000 his mother maryann stole $2.000 of eq gas co and got caught, his brother *** tony never went after him. theres a lot more he pick good guys not the bad ones. he don't need to be a magistrate. he needs to be look in to and all his misdeeds by tom cobet and marybeth."

    *** - Denotes a portion I was not comfortable seeing on my blog.

  7. we all know tony ceoffeMay 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    Bram everything is true and public record look it post about tony ceoffe and want public comments but you go and delet them. whats up with that?

  8. this is where Ceoffe's Weed & Seed funding goes. change the program to Ceoffe's Deeds & Greed!

  9. 'We all know' - If you can link us to some reporting or public documentation confirming the portion that I excised, you're more than welcome to splash it up.

    Otherwise, I've got to play it at least a little bit safe.

  10. we all know tony ceoffeMay 18, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    bram all meet you somewear and you can look at all the doc you can see them all.

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  12. I hate to be judgemental, but "we all know tony ceoffe" isn't really helping his credibility when his comments are full of misspellings and somewhat illiterate musings.

    I think it's be easier to believe some of things that have been posted if they were a little more, say, "legible."

  13. Matt H brought up freak shows are around today!

  14. After eight years of the Bush administration our country and our communities are facing serious issues. People are losing their homes and can't afford to pay their bills,taxes included.
    These are serious times and I don't understand why you are attacking a person running for office that actually cares, that actually gets results.
    This guy works his tail off. He works hard to help the Somolian children, he works to help the seniors,he intervenes in neighborhood disputes,he has been active in greatly reducing the crime.
    Who cares about family members and cheese? What are you, two? Get a life.
    He,s a good hardworking guy. There are so many serious issues to address. Spend you energy getting the city to put recycle cans or go after people that are actually corrupt.
    I am happy there are no longer so many vacant lots ,I am happy that women can walk the streets of Lawrenceville without intense fear of rape. I don't think Lawrenceville would be as good as it is today without Tony Ceoffe.
    He is one of the good guys and we are lucky to have him!

  15. Tony's a thug who intimidates good people in Lawrenceville and caters to slumlords who take away from the quality of life here- as Bram's blog post makes clear. What was he thinking selling properties to slumlords? People go years without paying and then Tony does them a big favor. The results I see are 4' tall weeds and garbage on those properties.

    Tony lies. And yeah he's active in neighborhood disputes - he causes half of them. This guy wants to be a judge?

  16. if ceoffe didn't do anything wrong selling props to slumlords he would have answered bram's questions

  17. "He gets it done," said Tony Ceoffe when questioned by me about the doings of Joe Edelstein. And he used the germanic pronounciation of Joe's surname, which I hadn't ever heard before and thought was creepy.

  18. earthvendor has 12 tax-delinquent properties, some it has never paid taxes on. so ceoffe sells them more property they can neglect. how is that good for Lawrenceville?

  19. So is Tony Ceoffe worse then Matt H or are they equals?

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  22. Slumlords for Ceoffe!

  23. Curious that all the misdealings are reported in TV and newspaper and if you go back and look at these articles there are always statements saying that there will be investigations of Streetface, of PGH government, etc....however it has been years and nothing ever comes of it...other than tax dollars continually going into pockets of the dishonest. In the Edelstein case, how many years since the WTAE Team 4 investigation, let alone the numerous other articles showing his dishonesty?? I use him as an example because he appears via articles to come up again and again...slowed down while Lamar fiasco was going on...and the list of dishonest things he has done is too numerous to list in one article...yet the man continues to get loans and is outrageous. Doesn't he still owe PGH 30 grand for demolishing that building that burned down a year before and he got $ from his insurance company to demolish it...what ever came of that? I'll tell you from what I have read...NOTHING. If Ceoffe is getting money into his own pocket it should show somewhere. All of these guys have had positive articles written about them...then the truth comes out...again though nothing ever happens to them and they merrily make their way to the bank with PGH tax dollars...laughing at their "untouchable" status.

    PGH needs a TEA taxation for MISREPRESENTATION...nothing being done on local, state or federal level...the only thing we get is high blood pressure from reading how much we are getting the short end of the stick while these guys get all the meat even after all this evidence comes up over and over again.

    For those who say these people are "for Lawrenceville" or wherever else they are making cash off our backs...of course they are "for" it, it behooves them to be...the way they come off is called SPIN...but their interest in in THEMSELVES...NOT PGH.

  24. I always crack up about the butter.

    I wouldn't be back here were it not for a vacant lot on Almond Way my neighbor thought she bought from the city...

  25. As these comments reveal, Tony is an enigma. He is an integral part of the old Lawrenceville he has tried to eliminate.

    He has all the subtlty of a sledgehammer. But when you are starting work on an old home, you need a sledgehammer to demolish the old. When you start to rebuild, however, you need new tools. Lawrenceville is rebuilding and changing. In the face of that, Tony seems like a relic of the past. He's a wheeler-dealer. He gets rid of the riff-raff, but sees nothing wrong with flaunting the law to get things done. He sees nothing wrong in "wetting his beak" in the process. Tony has been both a credit and a thug to the neighborhood. People who can walk the streets more safely and those who are offended by his corrupt ways are both right.

    It didn't surprise me to see him transition into a judgeship. He has always leaned toward law and order (but his law and his order). I'm hoping he will have to function in more of a spotlight than he did as diretor of LU.

    As a resident, I am glad for certain things Tony has done, but I am eagerly awaiting new leadership and direction. L'ville has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go.

  26. Looks like Jim Ferlo and the rest of those Ceoffe supporters were correct. I just had a hearing in front of Judge Ceoffe last week and let me tell you, he's no Zielmanski. I saw a professional justice that had all the makings of a seasoned Common Pleas Judge. As an attorney it was a pleasure to practice in front of a reasonable problem solver with a een temperment instead of a power hungry nut job. Lawrenceville voters did a great job in selected this guy.

  27. Interesting that the attorney above had a good hearing in front of Ceoffe- since I know of several hearings where he wouldn't permit someone to have their attorney because the other side didn't bother to bring one. I guess we're back to him flaunting the law because he's got some confidence in him again. That didn't take long.