PORTLAND, Maine — Portland businesswoman and prominent Democrat Rosa Scarcelli is asking a federal judge to throw out a series of counterclaims by her mother and stepfather, including that she misused money from her low-income housing development firm to help fund her 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Scarcelli’s filing last week urging U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal to dismiss the counterclaims made by mother Pamela Gleichman and Gleichman’s husband, Karl Norberg, is the latest in a legal firefight highlighted by sordid accusations exchanged between family members over their business dealings.

In her most recent salvo, Scarcelli denies that Gleichman gave her a controlling ownership of low-income housing development firm Stanford Management out of generosity and argues instead that the change of leadership was necessary because the Maine State Housing Authority objected to Gleichman owning any company managing MSHA properties.

Scarcelli initially sued Norberg and his firm GN Holdings LP in January, in part because he refused to exert his authority as general partner of the company to fire Gleichman from her position overseeing a slate of low-income housing projects GN Holdings held stake in.

The former gubernatorial hopeful also alleged that the removal of Gleichman was necessary because under her watch the projects were not adequately maintained, leaving them in jeopardy of being taken over and liquidated by U.S. Rural Development, the federal agency which provided funding for them.

Among the projects Scarcelli listed in her lawsuit as not being properly kept up under Gleichman’s oversight were Maple Tree Estates in Mapleton, Perramond Estates in Madawaska, Pittsfield Park Apartments in Pittsfield and Sara Pepper Place in Dixfield.

Norberg and Gleichman responded earlier this month, levying a series of counterclaims, including the allegation that whatever authority Scarcelli held in the family low-income housing development groups associated with the projects in question was given to her. The couple also claimed Scarcelli used Stanford Management resources “to support her own personal lifestyle … and fund her own political aspirations.”

Scarcelli’s attorney, Jim Poliquin of the Portland law firm Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, told the Bangor Daily News that Norberg and Gleichman’s allegations were baseless and made simply “to embarrass Rosa.”

In her latest filing, Scarcelli denied the mismanagement claims and argued her control of Stanford Management came not as a result of her mother’s generosity, but rather necessity. Scarcelli claimed the Maine State Housing Authority, the in-state administrator for many federal low-income housing funding streams, refused to work with Gleichman, effectively blocking Stanford Management from pursuing development projects while Scarcelli’s mother was in charge.

Scarcelli submitted to the court a 2008 letter to Stanford Management attorneys from MaineHousing in which the authority refuses to do business with Gleichman because of past situations in which she allegedly used project money to pay for “non-project obligations” and other “financial improprieties.”

“She felt she had to respond based on what the written record is,” said Paul Driscoll, also of Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, representing Scarcelli on Wednesday. “We attempted over a long period to resolve things informally, and we were unable to do that despite private mediation.”

George Marcus, whose law firm Marcus, Clegg & Mistretta is representing Norberg, Gleichman and GN Holdings in the legal disputes, did not return a Wednesday call from the BDN.


Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.