WALPOLE — The New Hampshire man who operated Vermont’s largest slaughterhouse with the financial help of a small Vermont town owes the town money after the company failed and he reneged on the town’s loan.
The town of Westminster, Vt., won its lawsuit against Daniel Mandich of Walpole when Cheshire Superior Court Judge David Ruoff ruled in favor of the town of 3,000 people in June. Now, Mandich and Westminster are heading back to court to determine how much in interest he owes.
The town claims it is owed at least $515,000 plus ongoing accruing interest, according to court records. According to the town, the ongoing interest should be more than $3,000 per month starting in July of 2010.
While Ruoff found that Mandich is liable to the town for money owed, the judge is setting an evidentiary hearing to determine the exact amount Mandich should pay. That hearing had been set for this past Tuesday, but it has been delayed.
Mandich opened Westminster Meats around 2010 with the help of the town, according to Westminster’s lawsuit.
He also appears to have had friends in high places. Mandich was reportedly encouraged to bring his business to Vermont by former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, according to media reports. Mandich was able to secure nearly $650,000 in funding through a Community Development Block Grant, according to VTDigger and The Brattleboro Reformer.
The VTDigger account states that Douglas stepped in on Mandich’s behalf in 2009 and got expedited approval for a $648,000 grant to Westminster, which the town then loaned to Mandich on favorable terms to open the plant.
Westminster Meats quickly became the largest slaughterhouse in Vermont, with more than 20 employees and 300 customers, according to the Reformer.
However, the business started running into trouble with the state in 2013 and 2014, according to VTDigger, when inspectors found wastewater pooling on top of the slaughterhouse’s leach field, among several violations found.
The business’s wastewater system reportedly failed for two weeks, and a state inspector observed a garden hose being used to empty an overflowing tank of animal wastewater, including blood, into a small stream next to the facility’s driveway, according to VTDigger.
The business ended up getting auctioned off to satisfy the mortgage holder, Mascoma Bank, according to the lawsuit.
Westminster’s loan with Mandich was considered subordinate to the bank loan, and the town did not recoup any money from the auction, according to the lawsuit.