FORT WAYNE – In early December, federal agents spent hours combing through Michael Fabini’s massive Cherry Hill home. Now they want to make sure they keep it.
In March, the 33-year-old was named in a 44-count federal indictment accusing him of drug trafficking and money laundering. He awaits the completion of the case in the Allen County Jail. The house is the subject of a forfeiture action – meaning if Fabini is convicted, the government gets to keep the house as having been the financial result of criminal activity.
According to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, the government wants to make sure that Fabini does not sell the house before the case is over. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Theresa Springmann to prevent Fabini from “selling or otherwise disposing” of the house in the 6600 block of Cherry Hill Parkway.
Springmann granted their motion, which was not opposed by Fabini, and authorized the U.S. Marshals Service to take possession of the house.
The marshals are authorized to do whatever they can to preserve the property – including change the locks, cover entrances, maintain the home’s systems and keep the grass mowed, according to court documents.
The home dwarfs the others nearby. While the other homes in the neighborhood are listed at 2,500 to 3,000 square feet, Fabini’s home has 7,578 square feet of finished space. There are 3,691 square feet in the basement alone, and in 2011 the property’s assessed valuation was $745,400. In 2009, the property was valued at $277,500, according to property tax records.
At the time of the raid, neighbors said Fabini began construction work at the home about two years ago, and it included tunnels or spaces under the driveway, a second story over the garage and multiple basements – including one under the 265-square-foot pool house behind the home.
Also charged in the indictment is Marshall Butler, 33. The two men are accused of conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from September 2007 to December 2012. One of the houses they are accused of using for drug trafficking was the home of Matthew McChesney.
In March 2008, Allen County police raided McChesney’s home and found 6,700 pounds of pot, along with guns and cash.
McChesney eventually pleaded guilty to possession of more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute and a gun charge and in 2011 was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
The case against Fabini and Butler is scheduled for trial this year.