PORTLAND, Maine — Rosa Scarcelli’s mother and stepfather are accusing the Portland Democrat of improperly using money from her low-income housing projects to fund her unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Pamela Gleichman and her husband, Karl Norberg, filed a countersuit against Gleichman’s daughter, Scarcelli, this week in response to the former gubernatorial hopeful’s initial legal complaint against them.

An attorney representing Scarcelli said Tuesday that allegations made by Gleichman and Norberg about his client’s misuse of funds were initially threatened to dissuade her from filing her initial lawsuit and are now being aired “in an attempt to embarrass Rosa.”

“The notion that she was diverting funds to her campaign, something that Pam Gleichman and Karl Norberg wouldn’t know anything about, is baseless,” attorney Jim Poliquin of the Portland law firm Norman, Hanson & DeTroy told the Bangor Daily News Tuesday night.

In her intial filing, Scarcelli called for U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal to remove Norberg from his position as general partner of GN Holdings LP on the grounds that he falsified documents to eliminate her majority ownership in the development firm. Scarcelli alleged in her complaint that Norberg falsified the documents after she threatened to exert her authority as owner of GN Holdings and fire him if he didn’t discharge Gleichman from her position overseeing a slate of low income housing developments all three had stakes in.

Scarcelli claimed that, under her mother’s watch, the housing projects were allowed to fall into disrepair and were in jeopardy of being taken over or liquidated by U.S. Rural Development, the federal agency that provided funding for them.

Among the projects listed in the lawsuit as not being properly kept up under Gleichman’s oversight are Maple Tree Estates in Mapleton, Perramond Estates in Madawaska, Pittsfield Park Apartments in Pittsfield and Sara Pepper Place in Dixfield.

In their response, filed Monday, March 5, Norberg and Gleichman flatly denied allegations of wrongdoing and returned fire, claiming Scarcelli used low-income housing development firm Stanford Management — which was founded by Norberg and later gifted to Scarcelli — to generate revenue for her 2010 run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Norberg and Gleichman counterclaim, in part, that Scarcelli contributed Gleichman & Company funds to her campaign in the names of Norberg and Scarcelli’s stepbrother “without their consent.”

The couple goes on to allege that Scarcelli inflated overhead and project costs to help “defray her own personal, legal and living expenses” and reduce revenues owed to Gleichman, who remained 49 percent owner of the operation after gifting her daughter 51 percent majority ownership.

Norberg and Gleichman are asking the court to throw out Scarcelli’s case against them and dissolve Stanford Management.

“Instead of observing and fulfilling her duties of care, loyalty and good faith … Scarcelli has operated the business and affairs of Stanford for her sole benefit and enjoyment, to support her own personal lifestyle and personal employment, and to fund her own political aspirations,” the couple’s counterclaim reads, in part.

“We obviously believe these [claims] are absolutely without merit,” Poliquin, Scarcelli’s attorney, said Tuesday. “The counterclaim is a hodgepodge of things for them to throw into the matter that are not really related to the complaint, just things to attempt to embarrass Rosa, basically.

“The counterclaim is very unrelated to the complaint that was brought [by Scarcelli] in many ways,” he continued. “And I think one of the reasons you don’t see a more substantive response to the initial complaint is that … it’s going to be shown pretty clearly [Scarcelli’s] allegations are true.”

Attorney George Marcus, whose firm Marcus, Clegg & Mistretta is representing Gleichman, Norberg and GN Holdings LP, told the Bangor Daily News Tuesday he doesn’t “want to elaborate or clarify” the allegations made by his clients.

“I think the language there speaks for itself, and we stand behind it,” he said.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.