The mudslinging between the University and the Schiavone Management Co. reached a bizarre height Thursday, with Schiavone charging that high-ranking Yale employees broke into Schiavone’s office and stole boxes of documents.
Schiavone Management, which filed a lawsuit against Yale Monday concerning properties on Chapel Street and Wednesday was fired by the University from managing properties on Broadway, released a statement Thursday stating that immediately after Yale fired the firm, several Yale employees entered Schiavone offices without permission and removed documents pertaining to the Broadway properties.
But University spokesman Tom Conroy said that the actions of Yale employees were perfectly legal.
“The University went to the offices to pick up files that belonged to Yale, on property that belonged to Yale,” Conroy said. “It was certainly appropriate for the University to do that.”
Nevertheless, Joel Schiavone ’58, vice president of Schiavone Management and a Republican mayoral candidate, filed a complaint with the New Haven Police Department charging that John Maturo, director of University Properties, led a team of University employees into the Schiavone Management offices and removed numerous documents belonging to the management firm.
“According to legal authorities, including the New Haven Police, Yale action was illegal and constituted burglary and is subject to prosecution,” the Schiavone statement said.
“John Maturo raced in and instructed all Yale employees and contractors to grab the files and boxes by hand and follow him down the back stairs,” Joel Schiavone said in the written statement. “They then proceeded to remove a significant number of files from both floors using both entries, making it impossible for me to stop them.”
Conroy dismissed the latest charges as merely a public relations tactic.
“Obviously he’s working diligently to attract attention,” Conroy said.
Schiavone spokesman Charlie Harper said the firm was waging a public relations campaign because its small size compared to the University made any legal challenges daunting.
According to Maturo, Schiavone Management stated in letters to both Yale President Richard C. Levin and University Properties that Schiavone Management would wage a public relations war unless Yale discussed the contract dispute over the Chapel Street properties with Schiavone.
Maturo strongly disputed Schiavone’s claim that the files belonged to his company.
“The files have always belonged to Yale, and its clearly written in the contract that the files are Yale’s possession, lent to Schiavone for the purposes of management,” Maturo said. “It’s about as open and shut as it gets.”
Harper said the documents were equivalent to those prepared by a lawyer on a client’s behalf.
“If you had hired a lawyer and the lawyer generated a bunch of documents, and then you fired your lawyer, would you have the right to go into his office, open up his files and take your files out?” Harper said. “Schiavone was not unwilling to turn over those files. Yale never requested them. They just stormtrooped in there and took the files.”
While he was aware of the complaint, Conroy said no criminal charges have been filed against Yale.
Schiavone plans on pursuing additional legal action against the University, although it has not decided whether the file incident should be pursued as a civil or criminal matter, Harper said.
Schiavone Management had been maintaining and leasing Yale’s Broadway properties for the past year and a half without a contract. On Wednesday, Maturo informed the company its services would no longer be needed, replacing Schiavone with Off-Broadway Inc.
Schiavone has a contract with Yale to lease and maintain the Chapel properties for another eight and a half years. The firm has filed a lawsuit against the University for failing to pay benefits to company employees working on those properties.
“We have no animosity towards them,” Maturo said. “It’s merely a contractual dispute.”