East Dundee business owner charged with forging lease agreement for Haeger Pottery building

Village approved the $600,000 purchase of site in December

Haeger Pottery building on Maiden Lane in East Dundee.

An East Dundee man faces felony forgery charges after authorities said he filed a forged lease for the former Haeger Pottery property that the village of East Dundee hopes to buy.

Brett Muscat, 59, turned himself in to police on felony charges of forgery and delivering a forged document. He posted $1,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court May 4.

In December, village trustees approved the $600,000 purchase of the shuttered Haeger Pottery building, but they have not yet closed on the deal. Village officials learned that Muscat was using a building on the property for his painting and decorating business during negotiations with the landowner, authorities said.

When no trespassing signs were posted on the property earlier this month, Muscat told a police officer that he had a lease for one of the buildings on the property and that he had recorded the lease with the Kane County Recorder’s Office, East Dundee Police Chief James Kruger said.

A review of county records shows Muscat recorded a lease in March for a building on the Haeger Pottery property. The 25-year lease lists Jan. 1 as the start date and monthly rent at $1,600. It also includes a clause that Muscat could collect the balance of the monthly rent as compensatory damages if the owner of the property, listed as Eugene Staples, terminates the lease early.

Staples did not return calls or text messages seeking comment Wednesday.

When informed of the lease by Muscat, East Dundee officials contacted Staples, who told officials he had no knowledge of the lease, Kruger said. When Staples obtained a copy of the recorded lease, he told authorities that it appeared to be a potential sales agreement that had been altered and told authorities he wanted to pursue criminal charges, Kruger said.

Haeger Pottery closed its operations at 7 Maiden Lane in 2016, 145 years after it opened. The 158,000-square-foot building sits on about 6½ acres along with some smaller buildings.

Authorities said Muscat has been occupying space in one of the smaller buildings.

“The village is not interested in continuing to have him as a tenant,” East Dundee Trustee Kathleen Mahony said.

The village approved the $600,000 purchase in December with the hopes of finding a developer to redevelop the property, which sits in the downtown area south of Route 72. The Village Board in December also authorized the use of eminent domain to purchase the property if negotiations failed.

When reached Wednesday, Muscat responded with an emailed statement.

“The village residents, as I am, are looking forward to the redevelopment of the former Haeger Potteries complex,” Muscat wrote. “With our dedicated Village Administrator Erika Storlie, the mayor and the Village Board members having the necessary broad spectrum of knowledge, it is an exciting time for the village as a whole to have this project on the horizon. This upcoming endeavor will be welcomed by all.”