Attorney Saldivar Criticizes City Council Over $459,000 Judgment Dispute

Attorney Saldivar Criticizes City Council Over $459,000 Judgment Dispute

Attorney Arthur Saldivar, attorney for Antonio Novelo, former owner of Novelo’s Bus Terminal, was interviewed today on the letter sent by his client to Belize City Mayor, Bernard Wagner.  We reported on the letter yesterday where Novelo has given the city council until Sunday, June 30 to pay close to half million dollars based on a court judgment made in 2009, some fifteen years ago.  According to the council, they are not aware of any such judgement, but according to Saldivar the award was for legal fees in a case brought against Novelo by the city council.  Initially, the legal fees amounted to just over two hundred thousand dollars, but with interest added on since the total is now 459 thousand dollars.  The most curious factor in this situation is the length of time it has taken for Novelo to pursue the claim.  Saldivar goes on to say that based on the statement issued yesterday by the council, they are being disingenuous.

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney: “It can be a writ of execution against properties belonging to the city council. I mean, this is not what is being contemplated at all. Again, you said what you said just now in jest, but something could be worked out. You know, the debt is there, you know, it takes some creativity, some imagination. But first and foremost it requires some respect, you know, show a little bit of respect, have the parties come to the table and make a determination. Attorneys are reasonable people. Mr. Novelo can use what he has in terms of his own personal resources and continue to do as best he can because he’s been trying. He’s been doing that. He’s been assisting and paying as he could. But he wants to collect his money back. And he wants to be able to pay off these attorneys. So he doesn’t have to worry about this going forward. But again, as you say, they can be offsetting expenses here. He may owe the council certain things and the council owes him certain things and at the end of the day, you come together and it’s a paper exchange. That’s all it is. It’s sad that we have come to this pass. One would have expected that reasonable people, business people, and otherwise, would be in a position to put aside differences, whatever they may be, real or perceived, and come around the table and deal with things maturely. And that’s all that was being sought. Letters had been sent to the mayor and instead of having a responsible and mature response, this is what we have. A public hearing of something that really and truly should have been dealt with behind closed doors. The judgment is there in public. You know, it’s there, we know what it is. This is not some back room  deal but at the end of the day, the debt has to be settled.”

Our newsroom reached out to former mayors, namely, Darrell Bradley and Zenaida.  Meanwhile Bradley told Love News that he does not recall the claim, although Saldivar indicated that he (Bradley) was the attorney in this claim for the council.  Moya says she recalls the judgement but the council was not in a position to honor the judgement. 

Zenaida Maya, Former Mayor of Belize City: “What I can vaguely recollect is that when we got into council, we had, we found out, we were, the council was like 11 to 13 million in debt. We were not aware when we got into office that that was what the council owed. So pretty much the council didn’t have that kind of money. The council pretty much was in a you know, it was in a bankrupt state. A lot of persons came when we took office saying that this was owed, that was owed, and such a long time ago but I know that the judgment was made. I was, I can recall that a judgment was made. At least it was brought to us and something was owed.”

Reporter: The judgment wasn’t in the council’s favor ? 

Zenaida Maya, Former Mayor of Belize City: “No it wasn’t in our favor, it definitely was not in our favor. The council was to have paid it but I can’t recall how much it was but it was it was,  it was it was a sizable amount  but yeah, it wasn’t in our favor. You know, I wish it was, but it wasn’t in our favor.”

We will keep following this story.

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