York County sues Rock Hill, David Tepper’s companies alleging misuse of $21M in public funds

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — York County has filed a lawsuit against the City of Rock Hill and three of David Tepper’s companies, saying it is owed $21 million that it lost in connection to the failed Panthers practice facility project.

The county is suing Appaloosa Management LP, DT Sports Holding LLC and Tepper Sports Holding Inc., (collectively the Tepper defendants) along with Rock Hill.

The lawsuit alleges the Tepper defendants didn’t use $21 million in public funds for the purpose the parties agreed on -- the expansion of a York County road. The county had already planned to expand Mount Gallant Road to three lanes, but in the lawsuit, York County said the Tepper defendants “identified the need” for the road to be expanded to five lanes instead of three for the Panthers project.

In the filing, York County said the defendants listed on the lawsuit agreed if York County gave them $21 million they planned to spend on the three-lane expansion, the Tepper defendants would manage and construct the five-lane expansion and, with Tepper’s real estate company, be responsible for all additional costs.

The county alleges that Tepper’s companies spent the $21 million “to cover expenses associated with the [Panthers facility] Project generally” instead of the completion of the Mount Gallant Road project.

“[They] improperly utilized these funds on their failed vanity project, the Carolina Panthers’ headquarters and practice facility,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather than cover the ballooning project budget themselves, the Tepper Defendants took money from York County and its taxpayers.”

Tepper Sports and Entertainment paused construction on the facility in early March, saying the city of Rock Hill failed to get the finances to pay for public infrastructure. Later, the company terminated the project.

York County said Rock Hill refused to accept its financial help and that led to its failure to issue the bonds.

“Both the City and the Tepper Defendants have harmed York County and its taxpayers, and the County should be made whole,” the lawsuit reads.

>> To read the lawsuit in its entirety, click here.

York County is demanding repayment with interest of the $21 million, payment for construction costs associated with the Mount Gallant Road project, lost tax revenue and punitive damages, among other payment.

Channel 9 has reached out to David Tepper for comment but has not heard back yet.

York County released the following statement to Channel 9:

“On Thursday, June 9th, York County filed a lawsuit against DT Sports Holding, LLC, Appaloosa Management LP, Tepper Sports Holding, Inc., and the City of Rock Hill. The purpose of the lawsuit is to protect the County and its taxpayers and to recover damages caused by these defendants. The specific conduct at issue is described in the Complaint. Therefore, we will permit the filing to speak for itself and there will be no further comment at this time.”

The City of Rock Hill sent Channel 9 the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

“The County has needlessly and recklessly commenced a frivolous lawsuit against the City. Time will reveal that this lawsuit was a colossal waste of public money. We reiterate the City has not breached any contract involving the Panther’s project and remains eager to present the facts in any forum against any party desiring an adversarial posture with the City.

“The County’s current lawsuit is both unfortunate and baseless. The City certainly did not cause the County to turn over $21 million to the Panthers to complete a Pennies for Progress project. The City has offered to work side-by-side with the County to protect the interests of our citizens. The City has previously offered to conference with the County’s lawyers and provide the factual foundation showing the City is not in breach of any agreement. That the County commenced this lawsuit against the City without carefully examining these facts is disturbing and revealing as to the County’s priorities and agenda. Every City resident is a County taxpayer. We feel strongly that the City and County should be working arm-in-arm to ensure that the taxpayers in the City and County are best protected. Apparently, a majority of the York County Council do not agree, which is regrettable.

“As communicated previously, the City will not litigate any legal dispute through back-and-forth media exchanges and will have no further comment on this matter.”

‘A gross disappointment’

Neighbor Fred El-Sasser is disappointed every time he sees the unfinished practice facility on Mount Gallant Road.

“Absolutely, it’s a gross disappointment and I drive by there every day and I think, ‘what went wrong?’” he told Channel 9′s Tina Terry.

He said he’s not happy that taxpayer dollars used to fund the project were seemingly wasted.

“It seems like citizens always get the short end of the stick, you know, and it’s not right,” El-Sasser said. “It’s not right.”

Councilman William “Bump” Roddey was reluctant to talk about the lawsuit, but said it’s unfortunate.

“It’s very, very disheartening that this has taken a turn for the worse -- for everyone that was involved,” Roddey said. “And unfortunately, the courts are going to have to get involved to ultimately resolve what we’re dealing with.”

(WATCH BELOW: David Tepper’s real estate company files for bankruptcy over Panthers practice facility)