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B&E sues Equinox and Sean Burke over 'unnecessary renovations', double billing

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Dec 13 2012 07:27:17 AM CST
EASTON, Pa. -

A company that owns 30 rental units in Bethlehem and Allentown is suing the firm it hired to manage them and accusing the owner of using the money he collected for his own purposes and pocketing thousands of dollars from an insurance claim.

B&E Capital Management, 740 Main St., Bethlehem, filed a civil suit Tuesday in Northampton County Court against Equinox Advantage Real Estate, 301 Broadway, Bethlehem, and its owner, Sean P. Burke of Center Valley, Lehigh Co. (On its website, Equinox lists its corporate office as 318 East North St., Bethlehem, and a downtown location at 97 East Broad St., Bethlehem.)

B&E says in the suit that Equinox was hired on April 5, 2011, to manage its properties on Montclair and Hillside avenues and East 6th, East 7th, Fillmore, Hayes and Calypso streets in Bethlehem and Liberty and Turner streets in Allentown, and that Burke was the property manager.

Over the next nine months, the suit says, Equinox and Burke collected $122,925 in rent, and that Equinox was entitled to 10 percent of the amount as its fee.

However, the suit says, Equinox and Burke spent some of the rent money due B&E on "unnecessary" renovations to several units; did the renovations without B&E's consent, and charged B&E fees that were "exorbitant."

Equinox and Burke failed to properly account for the money they collected and continued to collect rents after they were no longer providing property management services for B&E, according to the suit.

B&E is asking in the suit for more than $50,000 in damages from Equinox and Burke for using the rental income in a way that benefitted themselves.

B&E also accuses Equinox and Burke of keeping a check for $4,197.98 that was part of an insurance settlement from Allstate for a fire at 729-731 East 7th St., Bethlehem, and then billing B&E for that amount twice in a year-end summary.

B&E is asking the court to order Equinox and Burke to pay back the $12,593.94 as well as damages and court and attorney's fees.

WFMZ.com reached out to Equinox and Burke on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the calls were not returned.