The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 14, 2014

Repak’s career has been marked by controversy

JOHNSTOWN — This is not the first time a Johnstown Redevelopment Authority leader has found himself at odds with law-enforcement.

In fact, Ronald W. Repak was named executive director in January 1983 to replace T. Fred Young, who resigned amidst controversy alleging mishandling of flood-recovery funds. Three members of the authority board also quit.

Nine people, including the former board chairman, Robert Audey, later pleaded guilty in the flood bid-rigging scandal.

Repak joined the authority in 1978 and held titles of real estate manager and project manager before being named executive director.

His career has included its share of controversy and allegations.

Repak was officially fired by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority board on Feb. 25 because he allegedly accepted more than $130,000 in outside consulting fees while working on the former Johnstown Regional Tech Park development in the Kernville section of the city.

The former tech park, now Conemaugh Medical Park, is a joint project by the redevelopment authority and Conemaugh Health System. Repak is accused of billing Conemaugh through a company he called Diversified Development Technologies while still collecting his salary from the redevelopment authority.

Authority Solicitor William G. Barbin told reporters the “double dipping” violated an ethics agreement Repak had with the authority.

That agreement was instituted following another controversial project more than a decade earlier.

Repak helped develop a $14 million ice arena in Jamestown, N.Y., with Dynamic Design Engineers Inc. of Johnstown, led by the late Lou Guzzi, a Johnstown businessman.

Board members voted 4-1 in August 2000 to allow employees to engage in reasonable amounts of outside work, provided there was full disclosure and the board approved each case.

Repak did not report the Tech Park consulting payments and the policy forbade moonlighting work in Cambria County and on redevelopment authority projects.  

The Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena project was spearheaded by The Gebbie Foundation of Jamestown. Its website listed Repak and former administrative assistant Deborah Walter as “strategic consulting/ redevelopment specialists.”

That scandal came when Repak sat on a five-member board that awarded Guzzi a plum subcontract for preliminary work on a proposed $30 million downtown entertainment district that included what is now Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center.

At the same time, Guzzi was in default on a $745,000 loan owed to the authority, and there was bickering over free parking offered to Guzzi’s tenants at Lincoln Center.

Two years earlier, Repak was slapped with a $2,115 fine by his board – two weeks without pay – for improperly paying a contractor in cash, a violation of authority regulations.

Randy Griffith covers Johnstown Redevelopment Authority for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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