COLORADO SPRINGS - Wealthy neighborhoods and sprawling homes aren't immune from society's ills. Just ask the prominent Colorado Springs couple that purchased a beautiful villa in a prestigious community only to discover methamphetamine contamination.
The first warning, a lawsuit claims, was an anonymous letter found in the mailbox shortly after the house was purchased.
The custom home, known as Tramonto Toscano (Italian for Tuscan sunset), sits in the Peregrine-Tuscany Heights neighborhood on the northwest side of Colorado Springs.
The 5,800-square-foot Italian villa-style home was purchased for more than $1 million on July 29 by Bryan Groth, a Colorado Springs podiatrist, and his wife, attorney Kimberly Gielarowski.
The couple is now locked in a legal battle with the home's previous owner, Brian Marshall.
Groth and Gielarowski declined comment through an attorney. Attempts to reach Marshall were unsuccessful.
If Marshall knew the house was contaminated with meth residue, he was legally obligated to disclose that to the buyers under Colorado law.
A civil lawsuit filed in El Paso County District Court on Sept. 21 says chemical tests have found unsafe levels of methamphetamine that make the home "uninhabitable in its current state" by anyone not wearing biohazard suits.
Several weeks ago, workers from a biohazard remediation company were working at the home, filling several industrial dumpsters. Yellow caution tape formed a perimeter around the house.
The lawsuit demands Marshall either refund the purchase price of the home or pay for the cleanup costs, which are expected to be in excess of $125,000.
Marshall, the lawsuit alleges, knew his 20-year-old son, Martin Marshall, was "manufacturing, processing, cooking, disposing of, using and/or storing" meth on the property.
Court documents indicate Martin Marshall was arrested for selling cocaine and for possessing a bag filled with Xanax pills during two separate incidents in the first half of 2010.
A Colorado Springs Police spokesman said he could not comment about the allegations of a meth lab at Tramonto Toscano because of an ongoing investigation.
The home listed and sold by Debbie Reardon of Reardon Partners and the Platinum Group. Her website claims she has been the number one realtor in the Peregrine neighborhood since 2002.
The lawsuit alleges that shortly after the closing, when the buyers received the anonymous warning letter, they were told by Reardon to "disregard any phone calls from Monica Marshall, [the] Defendant's crazy ex-wife who is spreading lies about the property."
The lawsuit goes on to say Monica Marshall then approached the buyers and told them her son had used the house as a meth lab.
Reardon told 9Wants to Know Investigator Kyle Clark that she was unaware of the meth lab allegations until after closing. An attorney for Reardon and for Realtor Frank Fanelli of the Platinum Group declined to allow them to comment further.
Tramonto Toscano was valued at $1.5 million when it was featured in the 2007 Colorado Springs Parade of Homes. The property won the award for "Best Landscaping."
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