By Scott J. Croteau
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
Posted Aug 28, 2012
Every baseball team looks for a big-time closer. That role appears to have been filled by the Hilton Garden Inn and other creditors seeking money owed them by the Worcester Tornadoes. This type of closing, however, is probably not what the Can-Am team had in mind. A locksmith from Caola Locksmith Co. met up with Constable Alan R. Jeskey about 4 p.m. yesterday to change the locks at the baseball team’s Main Street office. The office personnel, including executive vice president and general manager Jorg Bassiacos, grabbed some personal items and walked out a back door. Earlier yesterday a constable delivered paperwork notifying employees that property of the troubled baseball franchise was in the process of being held, pending court proceedings. The locks to the front and back of the offices were changed leaving inside some team merchandise, including jerseys, hats, shot glasses and other items. There was a stack of unprinted game tickets on a table and a board in one room listed the game schedule. A note left on a chair said the office furniture belonged to the law firm Bowditch & Dewey. The computer and phone equipment also belongs to someone else. About 1:30 p.m., Constable Jeskey walked into the office at 303 Main St. and dropped off a court order that attached some assets to an ongoing lawsuit.
The effort to attach the team’s belongings comes after the Hilton Garden Inn joined a growing list of creditors filing suit against the independent baseball team and its owner, Todd Breighner. About an hour before the constable showed up, office employees of the Can-Am team walked out of the office with handfuls of three-ring binders and put them in the back of a car. Nick Gagalis, director of broadcasting and marketing manager for the Tornadoes, said the binders contained personal paperwork. “We weren’t told to leave,” he said when asked about the presence of the constable. He moved in a printer 30 minutes before the constable appeared. It was later, when the locksmith arrived, that the office personnel were asked to leave. Mr. Gagalis said he was prepared to see the team later yesterday as they were scheduled to play the Rockland Boulders. The Tornadoes played without their team uniforms Friday at the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field after those were confiscated before the game. The lawyer for Hilton, Margaret M. Melican, would not comment on yesterday’s events. She was at the 303 Main St. office with the constable. It appeared they were walking through the office to see what had to be moved out. Neither would comment on when the items would be moved. The Hilton Garden Inn, 35 Major Taylor Blvd., alleges in its lawsuit filed Thursday in Worcester Superior Court that it is owed $32,562 by Streamlined Sports Inc., doing business as the Worcester Tornadoes, for hotel room rentals and other services. Paul Marcelina, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, said in his affidavit that many of the room rentals and services were used by Mr. Breighner. Other rooms were used by baseball officials, visiting teams and players.
Last week Judge James R. Lemire granted a motion filed by Ms. Melican seeking an attachment of the team’s inventory, equipment, liquor license and office furniture in the amount of $50,000, after finding there was a reasonable likelihood the hotel would recover a judgment, including interest and costs equal to or greater than that amount. Judge Lemire also issued $50,000 attachments of a TD Bank account held by the team and of “money, goods and credits” held by the Can-Am League for the team’s benefit. The team was not told of the court hearing last week over concerns the items the hotel was seeking to attach would be gone if the team knew in advance of the attachment requests. Former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco also sued the team last week, claiming he was owed an unspecified sum of money. He played three months for the team. Mr. Canseco and the hotel claim checks written to them by the team bounced. In addition, two local companies recently filed suit against the team for nonpayment. The Hilton Garden alleges in its lawsuit that the bad checks were written while Mr. Breighner and Streamlined Sports “had extensive personal and corporate debt and the business of the Worcester Tornadoes was insolvent.” The debt includes roughly $60,000 to the city of Worcester for police and fire details, $50,000 to the College of the Holy Cross for utilities, maintenance and use of Hanover Insurance Park, and $5,000 to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for dormitory rooms for players, according to the lawsuit. Records also show that during that time Streamlined Sports had outstanding state and federal tax liens, including a federal lien in the amount of $50,028, according to the lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages in an amount to be determined by the court.