WILKES-BARRE — The borough of West Wyoming says that despite a judge’s order that businessman Joseph Russell stop running a hauling company, he continues to operate the business under another entity.
In court papers filed Tuesday by solicitor Linell Lukesh, the borough filed a request to hold Russell in contempt and sanction him for failing to abide by Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough’s ruling to stop operations at Russell’s Hauling.
On July 23 the borough filed a request for a special injunction against Russell’s Hauling to “cease and desist” because of neighbor complaints and Russell’s alleged failure to have the business properly licensed and zoned.
In early August, Vough ruled the business must stop operation until “further order of the court.”
The borough charged Russell continues to operate his business at a neighboring auto dealer to the Apollo Drive business, and that the borough continues to receive complaints from neighbors regarding noise.
After hearing from a Times Leader reporter about the most recent filing, Russell said he is not operating his hauling business in West Wyoming and had been asked by the owner of VP Auto Parts to operate and manage the salvage yard there.
Russell also said his hauling business is in the process of opening an office in the borough of Wyoming.
“I have to work and support my family,” Russell said. “Working for (VP Auto Parts) allows me to do that. I’m just trying to make a living. Am I not allowed to work at any other business?”
Court papers filed Tuesday by the borough allege that VP Auto Parts business has been inactive for years and that Russell has not completely moved out of his hauling business. Russell said the auto parts business is owned by John Pisanechi, who could not be reached for comment.
“(Russell) is clearly trying to usurp the court’s order and continue to operate a business where he has no proper permit nor license and is in violation of local ordinance, and most clearly, the court’s order to cease and desist,” Lukesh wrote.
Russell has been “nothing but uncooperative” Lukesh wrote, and “remains in deliberate non-compliance” with the judge’s order.
The borough asks that Russell be ordered to stop any other business in West Wyoming, be held in contempt, pay damages for police and code enforcement services, and pay the costs for Tuesday’s filing.
In emails attached to Lukesh’s filing, neighbors Charles Umphred and Tom and Linda Ciampi said that because of continued noise they have had to call 911 a number of times since the business was ordered to stop.