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Watch: Previously aired I-Team coverage into the investigation on Mayor Sellers’ tax troubles

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The mayor of Warrensville Heights has announced he is pulling out of a run for higher office following FOX 8 I-Team reports on his unpaid taxes and a tax break he approved for himself.

Brad Sellers issued a statement saying, 

“I entered the race for Cuyahoga County Executive on January 5, 2022. Recent reports have now become a distraction in this race, so today I am announcing I am withdrawing my candidacy for the position of Cuyahoga County Executive.”

Back in 2018, we first exposed back taxes owed by Mayor Sellers.

Then, last Wednesday, we reported on more back taxes just paid, and a big break for him on his property taxes.

Records show, 3 years ago, Sellers paid more than $13,000 in back taxes the day we reported on that.

And, just days ago, those records show Sellers also paid more than $2,900 in back taxes. That payment came just before he announced his campaign to run for the office of Cuyahoga County Executive.

The county records also indicate Sellers didn’t make any county tax payments between those two.

So, we asked why he had more than a 3-year gap between paying taxes.

He responded, “The story is you need to go back to the beginning.”

Sellers then launched into a complicated description of a long dispute he says he’s had with a bank and title company since he bought his home.

He added, “The county’s not a player in that, right?” 

We reminded him the county collects the taxes.

But, Sellers answered, “But the dispute is between myself and the bank.”

The I-Team also found Warrensville Heights gave the mayor tax abatement on his home, so he does not have to pay taxes on his house for 15 years. He only has to pay taxes on the land he owns there. And, we noticed the mayor even signed the tax break given to himself as the city’s “Housing Officer.”

Sellers responded to a question about that by saying, “The document comes straight out of the law department. If they thought there was an issue, they would not have had me sign it.”

Despite all of that, Brad Sellers still wanted to give up running Warrensville Heights City Hall and step up to Cuyahoga County headquarters. So, he still wanted to become the top man there overseeing tax money for the entire county. Your money. How it’s collected. How its spent.

We also spoke to Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio, a government watchdog group.

She said, “It’s absolutely important for all of us to make a good faith effort to pay our taxes.”

And, she added, “We always want to give people a second chance, but when you see something happening again, it’s not an odd mistake.”

Turcer also raised concerns about the mayor signing off on his own tax break.

Wednesday, Sellers clearly was not too happy with the questions about his taxes, but he was hoping you would buy his explanation.

He said, “If you don’t know what to do, the system can abuse you right? I just knew what to do.”

Sellers insisted his latest payment of late taxes had nothing to do with his new campaign. Just the end of the year.

Friday, Warrensville Hts. City Hall called the I-Team and promised a statement late in the day.

The statement never came and there was no explanation why.

Now, Brad Sellers has dropped out of the race for County Executive.