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Bridge battle goes to federal court

Updated: Monday, October 7 2013, 09:16 PM EDT

By Jon Rudder

BENWOOD, W.Va - Efforts to demolish the Bellaire Bridge continues as the case is now being heard in federal court in Columbus.

The case involving the bridge and owner Lee Chaklos takes another turn as it will be heard in a federal trial for criminal contempt. Chaklos has pleaded not guilty to those charges after information surfaced that there were liens on the bridge.

The bridge has been unused since 1991, and while the massive steel structure sits idle, the situation behind the scene is very much active.

"It's been frustrating all the way through the process up to the point where we are now," City Manager Frank Longwell said. "This gentleman came into town and led on a lot of false hopes that were never going to happen."

A trial date is set for Nov.12 in Columbus after Chaklos pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminal contempt. Benwood officials said they have discovered liens on the bridge, and that Chaklos allegedly failed to tell that to a judge.

"Through the mediation through the federal judge in Columbus, we had discovered that Mr. Chaklos has led on investors that they were going to get 300 percent on their returns, and he failed to disclose that," Longwell said.

City officials said
that from day one, something didn't seem right about the plans that were presented.

"Can you imagine of we would have let him started and he would have cherry-picked
the easy metal and then left with an unsteady bridge with all the roadway closure and the industrial park closed?" Longwell said. "It would have been a nightmare for the city."

NEWS9 tried to reach Chaklos' attorney over the phone and has not received a response from them.

Longwell said
that there is a total of  $2.1 million in liens on the structure.

Bridge battle goes to federal court

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