Real Estate Tax Foreclosure Unit
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Real Estate Tax Foreclosure Division is part of the Civil Division and represents the Cuyahoga County Treasurer by filing tax foreclosure actions on delinquent properties. Due to the increased number of foreclosure actions in recent years, this division devotes much of its time to combatting blighted and abandoned properties in our community. In 2012, they filed 1,946 foreclosure actions in Cuyahoga County: 1,132 with the Board of Revisions and 814 judicial cases.
Eighty-five percent of the tax foreclosure actions filed by this division on tax delinquent properties are vacant lots or empty, abandoned, and dilapidated structures. The Prosecutor’s Office is committed to helping tear down unoccupied properties that are havens for criminal activity. By tearing down these structures, we can increase safety while reinvigorating the economy by generating taxable revenue, increasing property values, and revitalizing prime real estate.
Another aspect of the Real Estate Tax Foreclosure Division is to prosecute mortgage fraud. Over the last several years, this division has prosecuted major mortgage fraud scam artists, including Blaine Murphy, Marc Tow, and Uri Gofman. Shutting down their predatory activity, which had preyed upon Cleveland’s struggling neighborhoods and dilapidated inner city structures, was a high priority for this busy division.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office was able to provide financial assistance for a variety of community services with the money generated by this division’s collection of delinquent taxes through the foreclosure process. In 2007, our office worked with the Ohio General Assembly to change the Delinquent Tax & Assessment Collection (DTAC) funding statute R.C. §321.261, to allow the money collected through foreclosures to be used for:
- Nuisance abatement in the City of Cleveland and local suburbs,
- Delinquent homeowners,
- Local counseling agencies that assist with Foreclosure Prevention Programs that negotiate with mortgage holders and provide homeowners with financial assistance on their existing mortgages, and
- Demolition of blighted properties in the community.
Finally, this division is deeply committed to community outreach and education. Having seen the toll of unscrupulous practices on communities throughout Cuyahoga County, they regularly educate the public on the tax foreclosure process, financial literacy, and fraud prevention.