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OSSINING, NY-Charging that they had conspired to deprive him of a $25,860 brokerage commission in connection with the sale of a parcel of land earmarked for a new police station, a local commercial real estate broker has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in White Plains against the Town of Ossining, its chief officials and a local businessman.

Jerry Gershner, principal of Gershner Realty Services of Ossining filed a $120 million lawsuit on Dec. 4 against the Town of Ossining, Town Supervisor John Chervokas, members of the Town Board as well as Richard S. Bell, principal of Richard S. Bell Plumbing & Heating Inc. of Millwood.

Gershner’s lawsuit states that he was retained by Bell in May 2001 to sell a one-acre piece of vacant property that Bell owned at 507 North State Rd. in the Town of Ossining. He charged that over a period of several months, Gershner submitted offers for the land from several prospective buyers, although none of those deals were consummated. In October 2001, Gershner contacted Town Supervisor Chervokas about the availability of Bell’s property for the town’s new police station, and a month later was told by Chervokas that the town wanted to buy the Bell property. On Dec. 6, 2001, the town made a proposal to Bell to buy the property without notifying Gershner, the suit charges. On August 12, 2002, the Town of Ossining purchased the property directly from Bell for $431,000. Subsequently, Gershner said that Bell and the Town of Ossining have refused to pay his firm the brokerage commission, which he said should have been $25,860. Construction has yet to begin on the town’s new police station.

Town Supervisor Chervokas, who said he had to limit his comments due to the litigation, told GlobeSt.com, “This really is a dispute between the seller of the property and the broker. The facts will clearly show that there has been no wrongdoing by the Town of Ossining and its elected officials.”

He noted that the sale agreement between Bell and the Town of Ossining included a provision that indemnifies the town against any legal action in connection with the purchase of 507 North State Road.

Bell could not be reached for comment.

Gershner, who has operated his commercial brokerage firm in Ossining since 1987, claims in his lawsuit that he did not have a written contract with Bell to sell the property, but instead had a verbal agreement to broker the property. He adds that the verbal agreement is binding under New York State contract and real estate law.

The lawsuit seeks to have Supervisor Chervokas and members of the Town Board held personally liable for legal costs and any future judgment that may be handed down against them in the case. “Any payment by Ossining on a judgment rendered against the individual defendants or for the individual defendant’s attorney’s fees would be illegal and a wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ funds,” Gershner contends.

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