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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Law enforcement officers search the home of Michael Fabini, brother of former National Football League player Jason Fabini, on Thursday morning at Cherry Hill Parkway.

FBI, deputies search Fabini properties

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Items are removed from the house on Wedgewood Drive Thursday morning.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
After talking with law enforcement officers as they searched his detached garage, Jason Fabini goes to his SUV and drives away Thursday afternoon from his home on Wheelock Road. According to sources close to the investigation, Jason Fabini is not a suspect at this time.

A house in an upscale Fort Wayne neighborhood and property owned by a former NFL player were the subjects of FBI raids Thursday morning as part of an ongoing, but unspecified, investigation.

FBI agents and law enforcement officers from state and local agencies served search warrants at the homes of Michael Fabini and his brother Jason Fabini, a former NFL lineman. Investigators searched an outbuilding at Jason Fabini's property at 8701 Wheelock Road.

Sources close to the investigation told The Journal Gazette that Jason Fabini is not a target of the investigation.

But agents spent all day Thursday at Michael Fabini's house at 6619 Cherry Hill Parkway. Five other locations were searched, including homes at 4209 Wedgewood Drive, 7916 Wayward Court, 9634 Stowaway Cove and 10216 Sona Marie Court, as well as something at a storage lot at 7015 Indiana 930 E. in New Haven.

By midmorning Thursday, Cherry Hill Parkway was becoming crowded.

Law enforcement vehicles lined one side of the street. Television news trucks lined the other.

Squeezing in between were many of Michael Fabini's neighbors – slowing their Mercedes sedans and Honda minivans to take cellphone photographs of the white box trucks emblazoned with FBI logos filling Michael Fabini's driveway.

In the upscale Cherry Hill subdivision, neighbors stood along the sidewalks and in yards amid minimal Christmas decorations, watching as masked officers and agents wearing the FBI's blue-and-yellow raid jackets walked around, in and out of the house. A police dog was also present, assisting in the search.

Agents and crime scene investigators ran tape around the entirety of the property – from behind the stone fireplace out back to the sidewalk at the front. Some agents remained on scene into the evening.

The FBI's Safe Streets Task Force is conducting the investigation. Implemented locally three years ago, the task force, made up of FBI agents as well as state and local law enforcement officers, targets ongoing criminal enterprises.

While no information about what was at the center of the investigation was available Thursday, neighbors seemed to have had suspicions for a while, particularly as Michael Fabini's house doubled in size over the past couple of years.

The raid did not seem to surprise some of them, even though most said they know and like Michael Fabini and his family.

Since Michael Fabini bought the house in 2009 for $270,000, he has expanded itsubstantially, according to Allen County property records.

While his neighbors' homes are listed at about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet, Michael Fabini's house towers above them all. According to records, it now 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.

And according to neighbors, the construction began about 18 months ago and 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.

Surveillance cameras are clearly visible at all corners of the house. What appears to be a commercial-grade generator sits on a concrete pad a few feet from the nearest neighbor's house.

The increase in the size of the house, the presence of the security cameras and the generator caused some suspicion in the upscale Cherry Hill subdivision.

About four miles away, at the Wedgewood Drive house, FBI agents and other investigators carried out file boxes and a shotgun.

Late Thursday afternoon, Jason Fabini issued a statement through an attorney, expressing his concern for his brother and the rest of his family.

"I have cooperated fully with authorities, and will continue to do so. I have not been charged, nor do I expect to be charged with a crime," he said in the statement. "I expect the community will have many questions as rumors circulate and this investigation continues, but I ask that we trust in the authorities to do their job."

rgreen@jg.net

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