The township can't get out of paying $4.1 million of a loan used for construction of the golf course and tennis center at RiverWinds, a judge has ruled.
State Superior Court Judge Anne McDonnell on Friday dismissed West Deptford's lawsuit against Fulton Bank, which contended the lender had not provided documentation fully detailing how that portion of the $10 million loan was spent.
The township filed the lawsuit in September, seeking a complete accounting from the bank, and asking that loan be reduced by $4.1 million.
The judge found the township was bound by the original loan guaranty signed in 2001, but she did not rule on the issue of whether the $4.1 million had been properly accounted for.
Attorney Christopher Gibson, who represented Fulton Bank in the lawsuit, said his client was relieved by the judge's ruling.
"It’s been an ordeal, and we’re very happy with Judge McDonnell's decision," he said Friday afternoon, following the hearing in Woodbury. "This is over, unless West Deptford continues to waste its taxpayers' time and money."
Fulton Bank was in the process of compiling the documents the township had requested when the the lawsuit was filed, Gibson said.
McDonnell denied Gibson's motion seeking attorney's fees from the township. The judge also denied a motion by Fulton Bank to sanction Mark Cimino, the township's redevelopment attorney, for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
Cimino said Friday evening he isn't sure if the township will continue to pursue the case.
"I respectfully disagree with the judge’s ruling and there are certain avenues for appeal, but I need to discuss that with committee," he said in an interview.
Cimino denied Gibson's assertion that the lawsuit was politically motivated. Township committee is now under Republican control, but was led by Democrats when the township became a guarantor of the loan.
"This isn’t a political issue," Cimino said. "This is about the committee as a whole taking responsible steps to protect the people of West Deptford.
"We’re talking about public money here. There hasn’t been an accounting as to where the money really went. There aren't any invoices to back that up."
Read more of West Deptford Patch's coverage on the RiverWinds loan:
- Cimino: $4.5 Million Disappeared in RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Project
- West Deptford Committee OKs Court Petition on RiverWinds Loan Info
- West Deptford Files Court Petition on RiverWinds Loan Documents
- Former Township Official Calls RiverWinds Loan Inquiry 'Politically Motivated'
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