A West Amwell woman who let shadowy perennial candidate Lisa McCormick and her controversial life partner, James Devine, rent part of her home is now trying to evict them and has filed summonses alleging that the two trespassed on her property and that Devine harassed her.
“I let them come and stay with me for three months while they fixed up their house,” said the woman, whose name is being withheld in protect her privacy.
At the same, time, the township’s construction code official has issued summons to McCormick and Devine for failure to obtain a certificate of occupancy and failing to comply with violation notices connected to a West Amwell house they purchased in August 2019 for $52,000.
Devine is due in court next month on a total of six summonses; four summonses have been filed against McCormick, whose bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination ended last week after a judge ruled that her petitions were entirely fraudulent. That matter has been referred to law enforcement to determine if they will face criminal prosecution.
The woman is currently involved in landlord-tenant dispute with McCormick and Devine. She says they stopped paying her rent in June 2020, saying that Devine claimed Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order prohibited her from evicting the two during the coronavirus pandemic. They owe about $15,000 in back rent, she said.
“He thinks he can use the system to his advantage,” the woman said. “I want my house back.”
According to the former landlord, McCormick and Devine moved out in March but continue to enter the premises.
“They come to my house while I’m at work to shower, but not every day,” she said. “They don’t live here anymore. The place is dirty and disgusting.”
As a result of her efforts to evict the two, the woman said she has been subject to verbal harassment and threatening text messages from Devine.
“I feel unsafe with him able to home here,” she said. “I don’t feel safe.”
During a court hearing last week on the legitimacy of McCormick’s nominating petitions, Devine sent an email to Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin stating that he was locked out of his home by his landlord.
At the time, the former landlord said, McCormick and Devine had not lived in her home for more than a month.
Philip Rosso, the West Amwell construction code official, alleged in municipal court summonses that the 118 Skillman Street home was being used by McCormick and Devine without a certificate of occupancy, in violation to local building codes.
Records show that the 1,248-square foot home was a Fannie Mae Home Equity Conversion Mortgage property that was available following a foreclosure and that the buyer was responsible for obtaining a certificate of occupancy.
By claiming the former landlord’s home as their residence, McCormick and Devine appear to avoid claims that they are living in their own home illegally.
“That’s why they want to say they live in my house,” the former landlord said. “They can’t claim I’m illegally evicting them if they don’t live here.”
McCormick and Devine’s claim of tenancy contradict nominating petitions that claim their Skillman Street home as their residence. The two also registered to vote using the Skillman Street address.
Local tax records list the Skillman Street home as their primary residence, not as absentee owners.
Finances for McCormick and Devine are fuzzy. McCormick failed to file personal financial disclosures when she ran in Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate in 2018 and Congress in 2020.
Shefali Saxena, a staff attorney at Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey who is representing McCormick and Devine on the eviction matter, did not immediately return an 8:30 PM call to her cell phone.
“I want my story heard,” the West Amwell woman told the New Jersey Globe. “They can’t do this to people.”