(WXYZ) - Detroit’s City Council President Pro Tem is accused of stripping a home that he lost as part of a foreclosure, and now that home is being targeted by the Mayor as part of his war on blight.
“When you leave your house abandoned it is a nuisance to the neighborhood,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on April 9, 2013. That’s the day Duggan rolled out his aggressive new plan to battle blight in the Marygrove Community on Detroit’s West Side.
But during that big announcement, one city leader was noticeably not in attendance.
Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. did not give Duggan’s team a reason for his absence, but perhaps his former house on Marygrove Drive kept him away.
Cushingberry and his wife used to live in the brick home, until they walked away from the property after a foreclosure in 2013.
The house is now one of 79 vacant and blighted homes in the Marygrove Community that the Detroit Land Bank is trying to seize.
Also, Cushingberry’s former lender is suing him, accusing the council president pro tem of stripping the home of its kitchen cabinets and fixtures and causing more than $56,000 in damage.
Cushingberry has been dodging questions about his law practice and his controversial January traffic stop ever since he took office.
On Monday, his lawyer, Todd Perkins, told 7 Action News that Cushingberry did not trash the Marygrove house.
“I can’t tell you what specifically was taken, but I know that the items that were taken, they were his personal items and things that he took from the home. But he did not, and I would make a hard stand on the fact that he did not leave that house in the condition that it’s in today,” Perkins told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
Perkins says the home was vandalized while it was bank-owned.
“It’s a systemic problem we have in the city where these miscreants run into homes and they take what they want out of properties that are left vacant. Whether they’re secure or not – they’ll break into them,” said Perkins.
“When he left there was a lot of stuff, trash, lot of stuff that was in the garage that they had cleaned out,” said Phynnell London, who lives and works in the Marygrove neighborhood. He says he’s seen the new owner working hard to clean up the property.
“They’ve been coming through here every other day, doing what they’re supposed to be doing to the house,” said London.
City officials now say the new owner has been in touch with the Land Bank to let them know that she is working on the home and it’s no longer vacant. That means it could ultimately be taken off the list of homes that the Land Bank is threatening to seize.
Cushingberry is also being sued for allegedly stripping and trashing a second property in the city, a home on Cherrylawn.
Lawyers for both sides will be back in court next month.