CROWN POINT | The home of a former mayor of Hammond recently sold for what may be a record amount of money in a local delinquent tax auction.
Lake County Treasurer John Petalas said the residence of Thomas McDermott Sr., at 1150 Churchill Lane, recently sold at his tax sale for $1.6 million in an auction to recover more than $133,000 in back taxes due on the property in the gated Morningside subdivision in Crown Point.
"I don't remember any home being sold for that kind money," Petalas said. He has been overseeing such sales since 2006. Former Treasurer Peggy Katona said no such amount was bid in the previous eight years she conducted sales,
McDermott served as Hammond mayor from 1984 to 1992. He is the father of current Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.
Petalas said the elder McDermott has been unable to pay his full annual property tax bills, which amounted to more than $21,000 this year, for several years.
Petalas said the home hadn't gone up for tax sale until this year because of McDermott filing lengthy appeals of the house's tax assessment, listed in county records at $1,261,000. Petalas said the elder McDermott was put on an installment plan, but didn't complete the payments.
County records list the buyer at LTNO LLC, a limited liability corporation, which lists the same Merrillville address as Whiteco Industries. Bruce White, of Whiteco, has been identified in the past as a developer of the Morningside subdivision.
Jason Weisler is listed in state records as the organizer and residential agent of LTNO and is an attorney with the firm of White/Peterman Properties, Inc., which also lists Whiteco Industries at its place of business.
Weisler said Wednesday he is not affiliated with Whiteco and declined to identify the owner of his firm. Weisler said his firm buys tax liens. Tax liens are the documents county government sell to the highest bidders of tax delinquent properties. He declined further comment.
Petalas said he doesn't know why the elder McDermott home sold for such a large amount over the taxes due, but said there was probably someone else competing to acquire it who may have bid up the price.
Petalas said the elder McDermott has until September 2015 to reclaim the home by paying the delinquent taxes and interest, which accumulates at a rate of nearly $204 a day. The county would then return the overpayment of $1,488,598.
Petalas said if McDermott doesn't reclaim the house, LTNO will become its owner and McDermott will receive the overpayment, once the mortgage company and any other creditors with liens on the house are paid.
Petalas said overpayments are normal in tax sales, "but not this amount of money."
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