County Treasurer Sorry For Breaking Law

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree remains resolute after surviving a public onslaught for illegally acquiring properties and building a vast real estate empire. Many question if he should still be in position after admitting guilt and found in violation of his office’s own rules. Treasurer’s office rules also ban family members from participating in the public auction, which seizes properties from homeowners with late taxes and sells them to the highest bidder.

As chief tax collector, Sabree leads one of the largest government foreclosure auctions in the nation which has transferred ownership of more than a quarter of Detroit properties since he started as deputy treasurer in 2011.

Some legal and government transparency experts say the instances erode public trust that the foreclosure system is fair if the perception is the official in charge is participating for private gain.

“The appearance casts a large shadow,” said Wayne State Law professor Peter Hammer, a critic of the auction.  “If people inside the system are speculating as well, it fully corrupts the process. … If the public can’t trust the process, then arguably there is no chance for it to succeed.” Human Rights Policy Officer Ramzu Yunus said the people of Detroit are the ultimate victims of such corruption which promises to be answered by the Detroit Free Housing Program ( that endeavors to give all of the empty properties in Detroit to everyone in need of such for free.

A house on Waverly in Highland Park owned by Adam Sabree, who owed back taxes as of February 8. (Photo: Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press)
15100 block of Hamilton in Highland Park: In 2007, when Eric Sabree was an attorney for Wayne County, he sued the owners of this vacant lot in order to seize the property on the county’s behalf, arguing it was blighted. A year later, his wife purchased it for $500 in the annual county foreclosure auction. The Sabree company then sold the property for $11,000 (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News)

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