BRUNSWICK

Family and friends helped a couple evicted by the town of Brunswick as Joe and Jackie Toth removed the last of their possessions Tuesday evening from their Pleasant Street apartment of 40 years.

But the load they packed into a U-Haul truck bound for a Topsham storage unit was short several pieces of yard equipment and tools the Toths said were stolen sometime before Tuesday morning.

“( The building) was supposed to be watched and it wasn’t,” Joe Toth, 57, said. “My life has been destroyed, and I hold the town of Brunswick responsible.”

According to Brunswick police, the apartment building, which was condemned on Jan. 18, has been broken into twice since then. Police said intruders kicked in the door at 77 Pleasant St. again Tuesday night, prompting increased patrol and further investigation into the two burglaries.

“In a situation like this, it’s difficult because no one has claimed responsibility for the building,” Capt. Mark Waltz said this morning.

Waltz said that a police patrol was on scene at press time.

The move Tuesday was the couple’s last interaction with the apartment after their eviction a week ago. A rotting porch — that, according to a letter from Codes Enforcement Officer Jeff Hutchinson, “was in danger of structural failure” — made one of the building’s two required exits for the building unsafe to use.

Jackie Toth, 69, said the situation has left her at a loss for words. It’s had an opposite effect on her husband.

“I give new meaning to the word ‘irate,’” Toth said as he packed up a lifelong collection of vinyl records, as well as tapes he said Jackie recorded from the radio.

After discovering the burglary Tuesday morning, Jackie said her husband walked from the apartment building to the police station on Federal Street to report the bur- glary that also included the theft of copper pipes from the building’s basement, knocking out all plumbing.

Jackie said she worries about the effect of the stressful situation on Joe — a clammer of 36 years who retired around 2004 after a fourth heart attack.

“ He’s so wound up about this, so I have to hold it together,” Jackie said Tuesday evening. “I don’t want to — but I do.”

For now, she said, the couple is staying at a Freeport motel and storing their things in Topsham, where they said they will ultimately move.

Five other tenants were also displaced with the eviction notice issued last week.

Jackie Toth said the couple has no intention of moving back to 77 Pleasant St., even if a buyer should emerge to take over for the building’s absentee landlord, Michael Gaul.

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” Toth said.

Absenteeism

Joe Toth said he has been the informal manager of the property since May 2011, when Gaul abandoned the building to the point of not collecting rent.

Gaul’s absence also means that the building can’t receive necessary repairs to bring it back up to code, according to Hutchinson.

“ It’s a Catch- 22 sort of thing,” Hutchinson told The Times Record last week. “I can’t issue a building permit without the consent of the owner.”

For two years prior to Gaul re-taking the building, Portland based Aquarius Property Management managed the building during a prolonged divorce proceeding between Gaul and his ex-wife, according to Linda Norden of Aquarius.

“When we received all of the paperwork, that took us months to compile,” Norden said. “It was just a mess.”

Norden said that the building was headed into foreclosure and there were liens for back taxes on another property Gaul owned in Gorham, which Norden now manages for Gaul’s ex-wife.

“The divorce was finalized in May (2011) and, as a result, ( Gaul) was awarded the Brunswick property,” Norden said.

Gaul’s attorney, Kari L. Hayles- Davenport, did not return a call requesting comment.

Following that decision, Norden said, Gaul made his last contact with her in an email indicating that he no longer wanted Aquarius to manage the property.

Since then, Gaul has been selective in returning calls. The Toths and Norden said attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Gaul did not return calls to The Times Record requesting comment.

Realtor Paul Clark, of Morton Real Estate, said Thursday that he has also tried to contact Gaul to no avail.

“Everyone has been speculating all sorts of things — that he went to jail or was in the hospital or maybe he just went off the deep end after his divorce, but nobody really knows,” Clark said Thursday.

But Gaul has not been entirely silent. Cory Bowman, co-founder of a Bangor-based property management company CDN Enterprises, said Monday that Gaul returned a message he left within three hours and he’s surprised that others have had such a hard time contacting Gaul.

“ I find it comical that everyone thinks that he is out of state. He is very much in Maine,” Bowman said, referring to the Maine phone number where he reached Gaul.

The Toths also said that Clark received an email from Gaul on Tuesday morning. Clark was not available to comment by press time today, but said Thursday — prior to the reported thefts — that he has an interest in buying the property back.

Bowman said Tuesday that he is interested in buying the property, and Gaul expressed interest in handing the property over, but it depends on whether the bank holding the mortgage will forgive debt on the building.

“It really falls in the hands of the mortgage holders,” Bowman said.

Clark, as the previous owner, also holds a portion of the mortgage on the building.

“It’s all up in the air right now,” Bowman said. “He said I can have it if I can figure something out.”

Bowman said the thefts reported Tuesday could deter his interest in the property that he has not yet seen.

“ That runs into serious money, depending on how big it is,” Bowman said.

Bowman, who started his property management business in New York state, said that absentee landlords created the same problem there.

“ Much like up here, you can’t get a building permit if you’re not working under the authority of the property owner,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he also saw the same problems with abandoned buildings.

“A lock is a good start,” Bowman said, “ but if they want to prevent theft, they’re going to have to beef up police over there and if someone is going to get copper, they’re not going to care about a lock.”



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