It all began when Jeanette Hubright, age 64, of 767 Main Street, Marion, failed to pay her property taxes over a three year period. After numerous notices by the County Treasurer’s Office and an attempt to work out a payment plan, she eventually failed to pay the over $10,000 in taxes and penalties accrued on the home, and the County seized the property. It was eventually put on the auction block at a County property auction on June 20th of this year.
Hubright continued to live in the property and after the auction was held, she finally apprised her daughter and son-in-law of the dire situation. The son-in-law, Jeffrey A. Buys, age 49, of 5170 Podger Road in Marion gave Hubright the money, and over a week after the auction, they submitted the funds to the treasurer’s office. The treasurer’s office accepted the funds and County Treasurer Tom Warnick, went to bat for Hubright and other occupied tax foreclosed homes. “We’re in the business of collecting taxes, not to take their houses,” said Warnick in pushing for the move.
After hearing several stories similar to Hubright’s, the County Finance Committee voted down any grace period for the foreclosed homeowners. They voted to allow the winning auction bidders to take possession. The consensus of the Finance Committee was that the homeowners had ample warning and time to address the tax situation.
The full Board voted and the majority agreed at the July 17th Board of Supervisors meeting to accept the auction bids. Warnick’s Office was instructed to return the money submitted for the Hubright property. Unfortunately, delays in processing the funds upset Buys to the point he allegedly made threatening calls to both the Wayne County Treasurer’s and County Attorney’s Office.
One of the County Attorney’s secretaries received a call from Buys on Monday (July 23) and again on Wednesday (July 25th). In a statement to police the secretary recalled: “He told me he was going to come in with a gun if he didn’t get the answers he wanted. He continued swearing and yelling at me on the phone. The phone call lasted about seven minutes.”
Buys also called a secretary at the Treasurer’s Office on Wednesday (7/25). She reported that Buys wanted to know when he would receive the money back, with interest, and she reportedly told him it was being processed. In her statement the secretary recalled: “He said this (the seizure and sale of the house) is elder abuse and we didn’t let her (Hubright) know ahead of time (about the foreclosure). Her statement went on: “He said maybe we would listen to him if he came here with a “fucking gun”, maybe that would get our attention.”
The incident came to light after the County Attorney’s secretary related the story to people in the County Administrator’s Office who immediately called police and locked some office doors.
It was learned that Buys also made a long, rambling phone call to Marion Supervisor Jody Bender’s answering machine on Monday. Bender said she did not construe the message to be threatening. Buys was arrested at 8:25 p.m. on Wednesday (7/25) at his residence. He was charged with two counts each of Aggravated Harassment in the 2nd Degree and Making a Terrorist Threat. Buys was arraigned in Lyons Village Court by Judge Larry Hartwell and remanded to the Wayne County Jail on $54,000 cash/$108,000 bond.
On Thursday morning, the Wayne County Sheriff’s office sought a warrant to seize Buys long guns and pistols, along with his gun permit being revoked.
Wayne County District Attorney Rick Healy called for a preliminary hearing before Judge Hartwell on Friday (7/27) morning and brought witnesses in to testify about the threats. “I take this very seriously,” said Healy, especially in light of the recent incident. (the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater).
At Friday’s hearing Buys and his Public Defender, Andrew Correia, agreed to postpone a preliminary hearing until next Wednesday (8/1). It was made clear that his bail would likely be reduced to $5000 cash/$10,000 bond at that time. Orders of Protection were issued for both secretaries with the understanding Buys could not be in either County building with the exception to visit with the public defender on the 2nd floor of the County Court House.