The new charges will add to his recent woes. After the news came out that Bishop Bruno purportedly had arranged a “sweetheart” private deal with a developer — no bids or listing of the property, but just terms worked out with a single buyer who wants to erect a suite of expensive townhomes on the property — he received a letter from the original developer of Lido Isle (the area of Newport Beach where St. James is located), the Griffith Corporation. That letter informed him something he ought to have known already: that the property on which the church stands was gifted to the Diocese for use only for church purposes. Griffith stated that if he went through with the proposed sale, the property would automatically revert back to it.
The letter caused Bishop Bruno to instruct his attorneys immediately to sue the Griffith Corporation for “slander of title” — a rather heavy-handed response to the donor of one’s most valuable property. You can read the complaint and see the original deed of gift at this link — the deed restriction is for real, and the courts enforce them as written.
It will be interesting to watch this scenario play out — whether the Bishop can remain on top of the situation will require that he first rein in his attack dogs, and begin treating donors and parishioners for the valued assets they are. Meanwhile, some useful information is emerging. According to this letter to the Diocesan Standing Committee, Bishop Bruno told the parish that he was trying to recoup the Diocese’s litigation expenses (incurred in suing four former parishes, including the previous congregation of St. James) of Nine Million Dollars. That is five million dollars greater than I had estimated in tallying up all the costs of Church litigation, as reported in this post.