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Two Laurel Mayoral Candidates Disclose Personal Financial Difficulties

Financial records indicate candidates faced thousands of dollars in tax liens and a foreclosure.

Two of the three candidates on the ballot in the race for mayor of Laurel have conceded they faced personal financial problems ranging from an income tax dispute and a property lien to a home foreclosure.

Over the weekend, Patch readers took to the to discuss court records indicating that mayoral candidate Mike Sarich had a more than $52,000 lien placed against his Laurel home earlier this year and fellow candidate Valerie Cunningham was facing foreclosure on her home. 

Sarich told Laurel Patch that the dispute was a years-long disagreement with the state over income taxes.

According to court records, Sarich, who has previously owned or managed pool companies, also had a lien totaling more than $2,000 placed against him and his affiliate, Terrapin Aquatics. The lien was settled in May of 2009.  Court records also indicate a lien judgment against Sarich and his McHale Aquatics company that was settled in 2007.

Sarich said the $52,000 lien against his home was settled for less than $3,000 in May of this year. 

“It’s a tax situation that has been settled,” Sarich said. “It was more convenient, rather than fight it, to settle for a very small amount.”

Sarich said the incident arose from an accounting error but that he takes full responsibility.

“I regret that it got out of hand,” he said.  “This is the exact same thing that happens to millions of Americans each year. It’s not unique.”

Cunningham, too, said that she is facing an issue that millions are facing. She confirmed that she is undergoing foreclosure mediation in regard to her home in the Villages at Wellington neighborhood.

According to court records, Cunningham has owed more than $5,600 in a lien judgment to the state since April of this year.

“My home is currently in foreclosure mediation," she said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this situation is too very common for many families in our city, state and country. I am quite sure that my own mediation will be successful.” 

Cunningham has made foreclosure prevention and mediation one of her campaign platforms.

Prince George’s County has the highest foreclosure rate in the state, according to a report by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. According to the same report, Laurel has some of the highest foreclosure rates in the county, with 67 foreclosures during the second quarter of this year. 

Cunningham's home was valued at more than $500,000 when she purchased it seven years ago. As of this year, its value has plummeted to just over $381,000.

"A lot of people suffer in silence. It's nothing to be ashamed of," she said. “Anyone in the political arena that would take these financial hard times and attempt to make political gain on the backs of struggling families does not deserve high political office.”     

Check out other 2011 local election coverage on Laurel Patch here. Be sure to add us on Facebook and on Twitter @laurelpatch.

Tonya Zachary October 19, 2011 at 05:52 PM
There's a lot of good left in Laurel.
Tonya Zachary October 19, 2011 at 06:12 PM
@ Wilma, Are you aware of the comments Mr. Rousseau made to the Patch a few months ago? I find his comments to be racist and offensive. “[The council] doesn’t reflect race at all--not even close,” said Adrian Rousseau, who plans to run for city council in the fall. “I believe that’s part of the problem, when you have no empathy for the community. I feel like that’s why we’re not getting represented.” Rousseau, who unsuccessfully sued the city in 2009 in an effort to have an additional voting booth in Ward 2, a predominantly minority area, said he expects the council will select someone who already works within the city. “I just hope and pray they do the right thing… not the white thing,” he said.
Christine Duray Feldmann October 21, 2011 at 06:24 PM
While I cannot comment on the exact specifics of Mr. Sarich's case, I can say that the state of Maryland does not settle tax liabilities for pennies on the dollar. Generally, we will not accept less than the amount of tax owed. Comptroller Franchot is dedicated to collecting all taxes owed the state and creating a level playing field for all taxpayers, especially in these turbulent financial times. In some cases where we have to estimate what a taxpayer owes since he or she didn't file any tax return, the amount paid may prove different than the total originally assessed. Not withstanding, the state has always and will continue to collect every penny it is due. Christine Feldmann Office of Communications, Comptroller of Maryland
CarolD October 21, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Mr. Sarich was asked to put his State tax settlement on his Facebook page and he hasn't. He has put plenty on it that has nothing to do with his campaign positions or his vision for Laurel. He has only used it to sling mud, cast aspersions, and worry about his precious signs. If he didn't lie about his settlement, and it is public information, where is it?
Xanadu October 21, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Looking for the Sarich Campaign's response to Ms Feldmann's comments above. No big surprise but now it's clear that Mr Sarich is caught in yet another one of his many lies. No hiding behind this one now, Mike!
Peter Lewnes October 21, 2011 at 09:36 PM
He cant and he wont for his campaign is nothing more tham a vandetta against people he dislikes or who dont have the same opinion as he does!
Peter Lewnes October 22, 2011 at 05:44 AM
He did it once and will do it again! BRIBES & LIES! http://www.cityoflaurel.org/sites/default/files/ethics20080513b.pdf
Peter Lewnes October 22, 2011 at 05:48 AM
After reading the link that I have posted, I did indeed find one error in the document: The Honorable Michael B. Sarich - So far from the TRUTH
John S October 22, 2011 at 12:59 PM
http://ww2.gazette.net/stories/050808/laurnew140804_32357.shtml Here's hoping a link to a Gazette story on the ethics complaint hearing works. Note that at the bottom of this story, Mr. Hester is quoted as suggesting a change to the city code allowing solicitations from Non Profits be taken out. Mr. Sarich is shown to be indicating that he wanted to work on such a change. I wonder if the Council followed through on that.
Xanadu October 22, 2011 at 01:21 PM
John S -- that Gazette article does nothing for Mike Sarich (I'm assuming you are John, his brother). It only shows Mike's true character. Let me use some specific examples from the article you so proudly published: ‘‘Please do not take this vote that there was not a violation, that there was nothing wrong,” -- Yes, he was cleared but his actions crossed the line. That cannot be debated frankly. Sarich’s response to Falatko’s e-mail made Falatko feel he was being threatened, he said. -- Another very clear example of Sarich bullying someone. This is directly from the developers mouth. ‘‘I’ll pass along your decision to the relevant community leaders. I’m sure they’ll make their own conclusions, and I’ll make every effort to make sure they understand the process as outlined by Mr. Manzi and not ascribe any negative connotations to your absence of support, although, people are people and they’ll draw their own conclusions.” -- It doesn't get anymore threatening than that... And then for Mike to make this stupid comment... ‘‘I thought I took great pains to make sure he didn’t take it that way. I didn’t know what more I could do,” -- Another clear example of Mike lying to cover his hide. This guy is a clown -- simple as that! He continues to bully and lie and leaves a documented trail for us intelligent folks to see right through.
Xanadu October 22, 2011 at 01:26 PM
So I think it's clear that Mike tried to bribe the Laurel Mall developer and then lied about it. Thank you, John S, for the article to support this perspective. Anyone who reads that article and comes away with a different conclusion is a Cool-Aid drinker. Now back on topic... What is the Sarich Campaign going to provide us to cover up his lie about settling his tax lien for pennies on the dollar? When an official from the Comptroller of MD takes the time to respond here on the Patch that this does not happen in the state speaks VOLUMES! Come on, Mike. It's taking you far too long to craft your next lie to cover this one up. You're better than that, man. We patiently await a comical response.
Peter Lewnes October 22, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Please visit the Pinocchio for Mayor website and now read how he LIES that the City of Laurel is now prohibiting Rousseau from entering a public place with that being City Hall. Hey Pinocchio, Stop the NONSENSE! The city is doing NOTHING of the kind! On October 6th, your partner in crime, Rousseau walked into City Hall and threatened the continued employment of a city employee with termination (if elected) and he was served notice that his "action of a certified canidate running for office was unappropiate". He must now report to the city prior to his arrival to conduct any business with them in order to prevent this behavior from happening again! Wonder where he got this "BULLYING & THREAT" tatic from? BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER!
Peter Lewnes October 22, 2011 at 07:19 PM
GE Xanadu, Give him time and I am sure that Pinocchio will come up with SOMETHING!
payit October 23, 2011 at 02:35 AM
I think the question was answered by the Comptroller rep - actual earnings were less than originally estimated, since no tax return was filed. The new question concerns leins that are still open against Terrapin Aquatics, for $17054.60 and $22079.90, and McHale Aquatics, for $8851.85. The suits do not have Sarich's name on them, but it seems reasonable to assume that he may be involved.
Xanadu October 23, 2011 at 02:48 AM
I disagree, payit. Sarich's campaign should be required to provide full disclosure on the subject. Sarich has ultimately been called a liar by the State and as someone running for public office, he should be required to respond to both his personal and business liens.
Peter Lewnes October 23, 2011 at 08:55 AM
As for attending the yard sale at City Hall, I do hope he enjoyed his day. This will be about as close as he ever gets to being INSIDE! As for Mayor Moe and the City Council not being there, I think that it could have been considered a conflict of interest or is it even legal to campaign on the grounds of City Hall? I didn't see other signs posted on the grounds for ANY other canidates including his partner in crime Adrian, but the refusual to let this fool do so would have been DISCRIMINATION in his OWN mind! I myself was there and his tent was indeed overwhelmed with his supporters! When leaving, I think the total may have been about 6 and that included Pinocchio himself and body gaurd that came to my home & threatened me along with 4 others who may have been family! Also, please be aware the Pinocchio makes the comment on his campaign site that he go's "door to door knocking". The episode at my home with threats towards me when he doesn't get his way must be what he means! BE CAREFUL & call LPD! If you didn't invite him and ask him to leave and he refuses, it's TRESPASS!
Xanadu October 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Yet another documented incident of bullying. When will the madness stop? And in typical Mike fashion, he spins it to his campaign's advantage. The Master Spin Doctor...
RainingTruth October 23, 2011 at 12:57 PM
http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiryDetail.jis?caseId=CAL1106738&loc=65&detailLoc=PGV Looks like 52000 to me...not 2000 Mike
CarolD October 23, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Sarich at the yard sale was beyond belief. What a horse's petut! He was told by the employees he bullied that he could not display campaign signs at the yard sale. But that didn't apply to him. He put them up, was told to take them down. He took them down, but when City authorities left, he put them back up. Then he has the unmitaged gall to wonder why the other candidates didn't take the same liberties he did. Easy to answer: they have scruples, they play by the rules, they even follow the rules. His behaviour was not lost on the other sellers and patrons. My count is he lost at least 43 votes. What arrogance! Still nothing on his tax debts - doesn't make sense that the Patch and the Leader aren't hammering him on this. It won't go away, and he won't be elected because of this, and the lies, and the arrogance, and the bullying, and the intimidation. When this is over, I hope he goes back to Greenbelt. He doesn't belong in Laurel.
Peter Lewnes October 23, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Lets hope that Pinocchio goes back to Greenbelt (real address) after the election. That would be a great start to the City of Laurel getting rid of the ELEMENT that it does not need! Citizens against Sarich should visit his office on Main Street this week and DEMAND the answers to the questions posted here! He clearly states on his website that his office is open to those who want to know what his plans are! Lets demand QUIT & LEAVE!
Xanadu October 24, 2011 at 03:06 AM
I sent Joshua an email this evening suggesting that the fact that Ms Feldmann felt compelled to chime in on the subject and that basically she has called Mike a liar, that the Patch should be following up on this matter. I will do the same with The Leader. Maybe both of them can report on the yard sale situation as well.
LaurelSince88 October 24, 2011 at 02:32 PM
All Moe's supporters do is say something negative about Mr. Sarich's effort to reach out to voters. I don't think it was bullying. Maybe he just used some of knowledge he obtained at law school to protect his civil rights. I like his effort and I'll be voting for him on the first.
Xanadu October 24, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Rules are rules just as laws are laws. In typical Mike fashion, he ignores them as his arrogance dictates he is entitled to do whatever he wants. He obviously ignored the rules\laws at the recent yard sale based on CarolD's account of events. And then he has the gaul to go and question why the other candidates are not there??? They weren't there because they were following the rules. At the end of the day it really doesn't matter what I think because I don't live in the City. That being said, I've known Mike and some of the other candidates for a number of years. I'm not a Mike Sarich fan obviously as I have no time for those that struggle with the truth and bully people. Nor am I the biggest Moe fan but if I was voting I would vote for Moe as he is has much more experience than Mike and has a track record of getting things done. Mike on the other hand, runs his mouth and gets nothing done. That is why he campaign is based on mudslinging. He continues to ignore the calls from the public for truth on some of the topics that he clearly lied about. If you support a person of this character, then you deserve what you get if he's elected. God forbid this happens!
payit_again October 24, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, get yourself on track. There are SIX cases on record dealing with Sarich or his companies, McHale, or Terrapin Aquatics. You are focused on CAL1106738, which was for a lot of money, but the fact is the case is closed. One of two things happened: either he paid up the full amount, or it was deemed that he owed less and he paid a lesser amount. I really doubt that he had $50k on hand to pay an old tax bill, so it makes much more sense that he is telling the truth in this case. The comptroller rep all but said that in her post above. Either way, it is CLOSED. He may be faulted for not filing his taxes (multiple times, apparently) but I don't see why he would lie about the dollar amount. There are two cases on file which are still open: CAL0708966, for $17k, and CAL0717656, for $22k. Neither of these name Sarich explicitly, but they name his company and they too are for a lot of money. Why isn't anyone asking him about these??? NL1148080 - $579 - CLOSED CAL0831806 - $2034 - CLOSED CAL1106738 - $52515 - CLOSED FL091809 - $8851 - CLOSED CAL0708966 - $17054 - ACTIVE CAL0717656 - $22079 - ACTIVE
John S October 24, 2011 at 07:16 PM
If the article is to be read quite literally he "previously" owned those companies. I interpreted the lien as something the state did because of the longevity of the "years long" dispute.
Xanadu October 24, 2011 at 07:22 PM
It maybe closed, payit-again, but the public still deserves a response on the topic for two reasons: 1. Mike claims he settled it instead of fighting it and the Rep from the Comptroller is saying that is not the case. Just tell us the truth, Mike. 2. Since the Rep from the Comptroller chimed in on the topic, it is something that should be addressed. Obviously the State felt compelled to clarify the topic. So should Mike. And I agree 100% there are other cases of concern that no one seems to be addressing or questioning. I question everything about the guy including his lack of ability to manage finances. If he can't manage his personal and business finances, how should he be trusted with a $25M budget?
Peter Lewnes October 25, 2011 at 08:39 AM
Hey John, You should stop while your ahead and DO NOT bring yourself to the low standards of YOUR brother! On another note, yesterday I had another misfortune of getting a letter in the mail from the Sarich campaign asking for his vote. UNREAL! Upon further investigation it came from the address (PUBLIC RECORD) that I posted here last week in which the BULLY himself came to my home and threatened me & my family! Well now Mike, your Mother has put her own address out there for EVERYONE to see and to let them know how sweet and caring her lil boy really is! If anyone else has been BULLIED or THREATENED in this manner, PLEASE contact LPD and file a formal complaint as I did yesterday to protect yourself from any other OUTRAGEOUS behavoir!
Peter Lewnes October 25, 2011 at 08:50 AM
There is NOTHING positive to say about his campaign or any SUBSTANCE in that hat rack that sits on his shoulders! If the LPD didn't think it was BULLYING they would not have taken a formal complaint from me! As for civil rights whats next, SIGNS on the WHITE HOUSE lawn? He continues to PLAY that card while ALL other canidates except for (Rousseau-walks into City Hall and threatens workers) play by the rules!
John S October 25, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Hello Peter. Mike S made a quip about needing to lose weight at the Quality Inn Laurel Board of Trade Trade Candidates Forum on October 20, 2011. I almost started singing "He ain't heavy...he's my brother.." Seriously I have no clue if I understand the lien/tax liability issues or the Comptroller reps note. I somehow think the Comptroller rep was writing something very generic just to assure the taxpaying public no one is getting special breaks implied by possible misinterpretations of the information we are trying to understand.
John Henry November 04, 2011 at 09:49 PM
According to your logic, maybe we should have a child molester, rapist and some murders..... The Mayor, his family and siblings have a long history of community involvement.... AND they are the most honest people you will ever meet!

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