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Multi-million dollar settlement reached with Tepper company from botched Panthers project, York County says

The money has been in escrow for several months as the saga around the would-be Panthers HQ project continued.

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — The York County, South Carolina government has announced a resolution on a settlement with a David Tepper-owned company in the fallout of the failed building project that would have seen the Carolina Panthers headquartered in the city of Rock Hill.

In a news release shared Wednesday evening, York County said it would receive $21,165,000 from an affiliate of GT Real Estate (GTRE). That amount has been held in escrow since July 2022 as both York County and GTRE worked to reach the settlement.

The county's statement said the receipt of the funds would be "in full and final satisfaction and discharge" of all claims York County had against the company, Tepper, and other related entities. Additionally, York County will withdraw any allegations that any Tepper-linked party involved in its suit violated the Pennies for Progress statute or C-Fund statute, or engaged in any other wrongdoing regarding the payment.

PREVIOUSLY: SC Gov. McMaster speaks out after failed Panthers HQ listed for sale in Rock Hill

The county noted in its release it was seeking court approval of the settlement but did not offer further comment. A GTRE spokesperson declined comment when WCNC Charlotte reached out.

York County's full statement follows:

Under the Settlement, the County will receive $21,165,000 (which has been held in escrow continuously since July 2022 as the parties worked to reach settlement) from an affiliate of GTRE (the ‘Settlement Amount’) in respect of its claim for the recovery of funds transferred to GTRE in January 2021 (the ‘County Payment’).  

The receipt of the Settlement Amount is in full and final satisfaction and discharge of any and all claims the County had against GTRE, David Tepper and any of their related entities (the ‘Tepper Entities’) with respect to the County Payment and otherwise, and, upon receipt of the Settlement Payment, the County irrevocably withdraws any prior complaint, if any, and withdraws any allegations, if any, that GTRE, David Tepper or any of the Tepper Entities engaged in any violation of the Pennies for Progress statute or the C-Fund statute or engaged in any other wrongdoing with respect to the County Payment. 

The payment of the Settlement Amount is a full and satisfactory resolution of the County’s disputes with GTRE, David Tepper and the Tepper Entities. Therefore, GTRE, David Tepper and the Tepper Entities have acted in good faith; the County Payment is restored; and the County is satisfied.  As a result, the County considers all matters related to the County Payment closed and believes that no action of any kind with respect to the County Payment is warranted.

PREVIOUSLY: Land where failed Panthers facility would have been built in Rock Hill now listed for sale

The settlement announcement comes nearly a week after the York County Sheriff's Office announced it had started an investigation into GTRE, specifically around the circumstances of the transfer and use of public money for the failed headquarters project. The sheriff's office also requested assistance in the case from state law enforcement agencies.

On Thursday, the sheriff's office noted the agreement was reached between the county government and GTRE, and "does nothing to affect the current investigation into the possible misuse of public funds.” 

In November 2022, GTRE reached a $20 million settlement with the city of Rock Hill, with confirmation hearings slated for mid-December. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge also awarded an $81 million voting stake to York County in GTRE's bankruptcy fallout.

The legal saga isn't entirely over just yet; the city of Rock Hill asked a judge in August 2022 to dismiss it as a defendant in York County's suit that claimed the city failed to issue $225 million in bonds to pay for public infrastructure tied to the Panthers project.

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