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Family feud over Charles Chrin’s $50M Palmer Township estate persists years after his death

Charles Chrin Companies

The Charles Chrin Companies have a corporate office on Greenwood Avenue in Palmer TownshipRudy Miller | For

It’s been more than three years since Palmer Township millionaire Charles Chrin died and his widow and sons continue to battle in court over his estate.

The 94-year-old Chrin bequeathed $5 million to Lehigh Valley Health Network and another $5 million to St. Luke’s University Health Network. He gave each of the nonprofits $1 million when he was alive but it’s unclear whether any of the remaining funds have been turned over more than three years after his death.

The estate was estimated at $50 million but now has shrunk to a small fraction of that amount, according to paperwork filed with the Register of Wills in Northampton County.

Also, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court accuses Charles Chrin’s son, James, of setting up his own company to try to defraud his brothers Greg and Dennis out of business. The lawsuit accuses him of using the Chrin company credit card for personal expenses. It says he was fired as a Chrin Companies employee on Monday due to the allegations.

Northampton County First Deputy District attorney Richard Pepper said Thursday he’s unaware of any criminal investigation into Greg and Dennis Chrin’s allegations. But his office is investigating a claim made by James Chrin that funds were transferred out of a trust fund without proper authorization.

The Chrin empire, estate

The Chrin family has a high profile in the Lehigh Valley. It donated millions to build the Charles Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township and paid for a Route 33 interchange to allow trucks easy access to the Chrin Commerce Center, a complex with millions of square feet of warehouses.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of the Chrin Companies says the companies have more than 100 employees and boast annual revenues of tens of millions of dollars. The family owns a trash hauling business, a landfill and an excavation business. It owns a business that converts methane gas produced at the Williams Township landfill into electricity, the lawsuit says.

The three brothers have ownership stakes in the companies, although James’ share is in a trust created for his benefit, the lawsuit says. Greg Chrin owns all the voting shares for the landfill, excavation business and the administrative arm of the company, the lawsuit says.

When Charles Chrin died in June 2018, his estate was estimated at $50 million, according to a petition filed in February 2021 by Greg Chrin’s attorney, Steven Goudsouzian. But the estate was encumbered by considerable debts, loans and mortgages, he wrote.

After selling off most of the real estate, valued at $35 million, and then settling the debts, and then paying inheritance taxes, estate taxes and attorney fees, the estate was left with $5.5 million, Goudsouzian wrote.

However, James Chrin claims he’s owed $3 million in real estate sales commissions, Goudsouzian wrote. There’s also a dispute over a $1.23 million account seized by Greg Chrin that Chrin’s widow, Janet Corriere Chrin, claims she’s owed. Corriere Chrin was Charles Chrin’s fourth wife and married him in 2015, Goudsouzian wrote.

The estate also contends Corriere Chrin wrongly pocketed a $600,000 tax refund. If you account for all the disputed funds and attorney fees, there’s only $1.5 million left to disburse to the hospitals and Corriere Chrin at this time, Goudsouzian wrote.

Goudsouzian proposed disbursing $545,454 to Lehigh Valley Health Network, $545,454 to St. Luke’s University Health Network and $409,090 to Janet Corriere Chrin. He wrote that the estate intends to pay the hospital networks the full amount when all the disputes are settled, but proposed a partial payment now with what’s available.

Corriere Chrin objected. Her attorney, Thomas Donnelly of Doylestown, insisted in court papers that Corriere Chrin was promised $10,000 a month for life, which she’s receiving, and a lump sum payment of $3 million. She’s a creditor, not a legatee of the estate, and deserves the full $3 million, he wrote. Her claim takes precedence over the hospitals, he wrote.

None of the attorneys involved in the estate dispute responded to phone messages and emails seeking comment.

It’s unclear whether any of the money has been disbursed. Goudsouzian’s proposal for divvying up the funds was withdrawn May 20. Donnelly’s objection was also withdrawn in May, but he reserves the right to refile it at a future date. The judge handling the case has made no ruling and the case remains open. No documents in the case file indicate whether any preliminary agreement has been reached. There was a hearing May 6 on the case but the transcript was unavailable, so it’s unclear what happened then.

Brothers against brother

Meanwhile, Greg and Dennis Chrin accuse their brother, James, of setting up his own company, Chrin Waste Services, to steal business from them. Their lawsuit says Chrin Waste Services sells and leases trash compactors and handles trash removal. James Chrin was a sales agent to many Chrin Companies clients, so when those Chrin clients called James for service, he provided the service under his rogue company without telling the client, the lawsuit alleges.

“The business is rather like a parasitic amoeba, without its own form or independent means of existence, passing itself off as affiliated with the companies in order to receive sustenance,” the lawsuit says.

James Chrin had no comment for this story. James’ attorney, Steven Weiner of Allentown, didn’t respond to a voicemail or emailed message.

The lawsuit claims James Chrin booked the contract to handle waste disposal at the new Hecktown Oaks hospital in the Lehigh Valley Health Network. Lehigh Valley Health Network was confused to learn its trash hauling wasn’t being handled by the Chrin companies but by James’ company, the lawsuit says.

Spokespeople for the Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network didn’t return emailed messages seeking comment for this story.

The lawsuit says James Chrin also took on the trash disposal business for the Porsche facility in the Chrin Commerce Center. It says he quoted them a price of $5,000 for some services but billed them $10,000. The lawsuit accuses James Chrin of attempting to pocket the difference until he was called out by Porsche.

It says he racked up 800 personal charges on a Chrin company credit card. Due to the allegations, his brothers fired him as an employee of Chrin Companies and demanded he stop using the credit card and his company-issued cell phone.

Deputy District Attorney Pepper said James Chrin came to his office about 10 months ago with the allegations about the misappropriated trust money. He came back about two to three weeks ago with more allegations, he said. Pepper said the investigation is ongoing.

“Have we done anything officially? No,” he said.

Dennis Chrin’s attorney, Karl Prior of King of Prussia, didn’t respond to emails and a voicemail message seeking comment.

The attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Chrin Companies against James Chrin are Jason A. Levin and Michael J. Masciandaro of Philadelphia. They also didn’t respond to an email message. They are seeking to have Chrin Waste Systems shut down immediately.

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Rudy Miller may be reached at