$1.6 million tax scofflaw finds shelter from foreclosure, again

Although times are tough and budgets tight, the Land Court can't seem to make a call in the city's largest property tax scofflaw case, which has now dragged on for almost five years.

Maxwell Products Corporation and owner Hal Cohen owe well over $1.6 million in property taxes and interest on a large industrial property at 65 E. Cottage St. and over $750,000 to a profit sharing and pension fund he said he would repay in an agreement with the Department of Labor.

Now, as was the case in 2007, competition between the two debtors has once again formed a protective roof over Cohen's head. After a hearing on Feb. 26 that some anticipated would finally decide whether the city would be allowed to foreclose on the property, the recorder of the Land Court has instead taken into advisement a motion by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to reconsider that option.

If the city were to foreclose, the DOL has no guarantee that the employees would get their money back.

This brings the case full circle, as the exact same stalemate was in effect in late 2007 when the Reporter first reported the details of the case.

In the interim, an agreement from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to repay the debt to the DOL caused the Secretary of Labor to step aside and allow foreclosure to proceed. But a clerical error by the City of Boston's legal department delayed the case, the BRA withdrew the offer citing a failing economy, and the DOL renewed the motion against foreclosure.

There is now no timetable for the recorder's decision on the matter.

A purchase and sale agreement for an undisclosed amount that Cohen claimed to have with Briggs LLC, a real estate development and investment company, has also expired.