Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli is suing her stepfather, alleging that he has allowed her mother to mismanage several family-run housing projects that are now at risk of being taken over by the federal agency that financed them.

Scarcelli’s lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment stating that she owns 70 percent of the company, GN Holdings LP, and that she has the authority to decide how to run it.

Her stepfather’s attorney defends the allegations and says Scarcelli’s ownership amounts to “zero.”

The lawsuit comes after the failure of a year-and-a-half-long effort to reach a resolution through mediation, said Scarcelli’s attorney, Paul Driscoll.

“Huge efforts have been made to resolve this privately,” Driscoll said. “We are putting this in the hands of a judge and letting the process work that way. I’m sorry it comes to this.”

Scarcelli’s lawsuit, to be heard by U.S. District Judge George Singal, alleges that her stepfather, Karl Norberg, refused to remove Scarcelli’s mother, Pamela Gleichman, as a general partner in the family’s affordable housing company, even though Gleichman failed to make necessary repairs and maintenance to low-income projects as required by USDA Rural Development.

Gleichman, who lives in Illinois with her husband, is named as a party of interest in the suit.

George Marcus, an attorney representing Norberg and Gleichman, said his clients plan to respond to the allegations by the March 5 deadline.

He said that Scarcelli has no ownership stake in the company.

“This is her mother’s company,” Marcus said. “If (Scarcelli) has acquired anything, it would be by a gift from her mother, and this is not a gift her mother has made.”

He said Scarcelli’s allegations are false. “Furthermore, we don’t think this is any of her business.”

Driscoll said he expects Norberg and Gleichman will file a countersuit.

Some of the subsidized housing projects Scarcelli listed in the lawsuit include Perramond Estates in Madawaska, Maple Tree Estates in Mapleton and Pittsfield Park Apartments in Pittsfield.

In the lawsuit, Scarcelli says that a 2006 limited partnership agreement established Scarcelli as holding a 70 percent interest in the company and Norberg a five percent interest. Driscoll said that Scarcelli has been paying taxes on her 70 percent ownership stake.

Scarcelli a year ago sent Norberg a letter demanding that he remove Gleichman as a general partner. After Scarcelli made it clear she would exercise her rights as the majority owner of the company, Norberg asserted that she had no ownership rights at all, according to the suit.

Scarcelli, who lives in Portland, finished third in the 2010 Democratic primary, behind nominee Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe.

The suit was filed on Jan. 18 in Cumberland County Superior Court and moved to U.S. District Court on Feb. 16.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@mainetoday.com

Twitter: TomBellPortland