The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Bridgeport Couple Face Discrimination Charges In Home Sale

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 10, 2010 9:00PM

The house at the center of the charges, Photo via
A white Bridgeport couple is facing discrimination charges from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for allegedly pulling their home off the market rather than sell it to a black couple that submitted the highest offer. Local comedian George Willborn and his wife made the highest offer - reported to be $1.7 million - on the home owned by Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia in January of this year. But the Sabbias, who had listed the house for $1.799 million, then pulled the house, which they had been trying to sell for two years, off the market. The Sabbias claimed they decided to stay put, unable to find another home to move in to. Jeffrey Lowe, the Sabbias' real estate agent, denied to the Willborns' broker at the time that it was about the Willborns' race.

Lo and behold, just two months later, in March, the home was once again listed for the same price ($1.799 million). The Willborns then filed a complaint that this violated the Fair Housing Act and HUD interviewed both Lowe and the Sabbias. While the Sabbias insisted they didn't want to sell their home below the $1.799 million asking price, Lowe, according to WBBM 780 AM, "told HUD investigators that Daniel Sabbia had expressed a preference not to sell his home to an African-American." Busted.

The case will be heard by an administrative law judge who will decide whether or not any discrimination occurred and, if so, could also issue fines up to $16,000. That's all unless any of the parties involved wants to kick this up to federal court in which case punitive damages come in to play as well. Both the Lowe Group Chicago, Inc. and real estate broker, Prudential Rubloff Properties are also charged in the complaint. John TrasviƱa, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a press release, “Racial fairness is important at all income levels. Civil rights enforcement must be the effective shield against housing discrimination that in this case wealth was not."