Four years after masons put the finishing touches on the Davidsonville home of former Teamser leader Frank DeBrouse, and within months after federal prosecutors began investigating who paid for it. DeBrouse has been sued for $154,711 for alleged past-due payments.
The suit was filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court by Lyon Builders, Inc., which built the $290,000 home in 1973 when DeBrouse and the company president were on friendly terms.
Now DeBrouse is saying in court documents that he won't pay another cent to Lyon Builders because the firm did such a poor job on the house: the skylight dome leaked, the pool deck was inferior, the wallpaper was water damaged.
Last Sunday night, DeBrouse had a different problem. Two men entered the luxurious home, held DeBrouse at gunpoint while robbing him and then tied him up along with his wife, daughter and her friend.
The men knocked on DeBrouse's door shortly after 10, said they were having car trouble and asked to use the telephone. As soon as they were let in, the men pulled out handguns and in the next two hours stole $500 in cash, a portable television set, jewelry and a rifle, Anne Arundel County police said.
There have been a number of similar "knock and rob" cases in that neighborhood recently, the police said. DeBrouse's was the second in three weeks.
A person associated with DeBrouse's legal affairs said yesterday that the robbery was "the last thing he needed, with all his other troubles."
In the suit, Lyon Builders is asking DeBrouse and his wife Gloria to pay the $154,711 because of cost overruns and because DeBrouse allegedly still owe $35,000 of the originally agreed-upon price of $170,000 for the house.
John W. Lyon, president of Lyon Builders, also heads a multi-million dollar firm called Excavation Construction Inc. That firm has come under the scrutiny of federal prosecutors because of allegations that it was part of a labor-management racketeering scheme.
When DeBrouse's home was under construction, he and Lyon were considered friends.
According to court documents, Excavation Construction Inc. threw a party for DeBrouse that year to help him win reelection as president of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington.
Now the two men are quarreling in court papers over leaking windows, cracks in foyer tiles and garage doors. They have both also received subpoenas from the office of the U.S. attorney in Baltimore.
That office is conducting a grand jury investigation into allegations that former Teamsters officials in Washington and Baltimore cooperated with management figures who employed members of their union in return for special benefits, according to informed sources.
The Davidsonville home, set on 2 1/2 acres with a swimming pool and tennis courts, has figured prominently in the investigation, sources said.
As a result of this probe, Giant Food Inc. pleaded guilty last month to making illegal payments of $10,000 worth of carpeting for a house owned by an unnamed union official who had control over a number of union members employed by Giant.
The only union official who matches the description given at that court hearing is DeBrouse. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Rohrbaugh said that two top Giant executives gave the union official the services of an architect as well as the carpeting.
Rohrbaugh also said in court that Giant had tried to collect payment for the carpets from the union official but had then written off the cost on company records.
Albert J. Ahern Jr., attorney for DeBrouse, has denied that DeBrouse has been a party to any wrongdoing. In the answer DeBrouse filed to the Lyon Builders suit, Ahern accused the building firm of using cheap and inferior materials for DeBrouse's house and provided a three-page list of alleged imperfections.
Albert J. Ahern Jr., attorney for DeBrouse, has denied that DeBrouse has more than compensates . . . for the actual work done and materials installed on the job."
Ahern has refused to comment on details of the investigation. He claims that it is the result of bad feelings between DeBrouse and Daniel George, a union insurgent who defeated DeBrouse in the 1977 election for leadership of Local 639.