Former Birmingham mayor faces meth charges

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 9, 2013

Seth Chafetz

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP/BIRMINGHAM — Longtime community leader and former Birmingham Mayor Seth Chafetz will soon face a judge on charges of possession of methamphetamine, a crime that carries as many as 10 years in prison.

According to the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, the arrest was the result of an ongoing investigation at a home in the 5300 block of Hickory Bend Circle. On Aug. 16, NET was able to execute a “controlled buy,” and purchased $100 worth of methamphetamine at the house.

The investigation continued, and enough probable cause was collected to obtain a search warrant for the residence, officials said. According to reports, investigators discovered 3.5 grams of meth, a gram of marijuana, numerous syringes and $200 inside the home. 

He and another suspect, 40-year-old Brian Brooks, of Ferndale, were arrested and later released following questioning at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Chafetz is due back in 48th District Court at 9 a.m. Sept. 23 for a pretrial hearing in front of Judge Kimberly Small.

Police are still looking for Brooks, who is facing one count of possession of fewer than 25 grams of heroin and one count of possession of marijuana. The charges could carry a combined five years in prison.

Those who knew Chafetz during his time serving the Birmingham community say they’re stunned at the accusations. He moved out of the city in 2009.

“We never had any police problems with him,” said Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt. “I mean, he was a city commissioner and mayor for a period of time.”

Chafetz served on the Birmingham City Commission from 1999-2003, serving as mayor pro tem in 2002 and mayor in 2003. He also served on the library board.

Professionally, he was a figure skating coach, training national and international gold medalists, according to the city of Birmingham’s website.

Commissioner Scott Moore knew him politically and from spending time with his daughter at the ice arena. He said the two often didn’t see eye to eye politically, but they shared a mutual respect.

“We were never on the commission together, but because he was a political person in the city, we knew each other pretty well. We ran against each other twice,” said Moore. “We both went about our efforts in a passionate way. Our styles may have differed, and our opinions on issued differed from day to day — often, but not always.”

Despite their differences and the severity of the charges, Moore said he wishes his colleague the best through what he assumes are Chafetz’s “darkest days.”

“I never would’ve suspected this, not even close. If anything, he was one that adhered to city ordinance very strictly. Which is fine, that’s just why something like this would come as a great surprise,” Moore said. “I’m sure he feels awful, and I feel awful for him. I hope through this experience, however it comes out, that something worthwhile will happen.”

Chafetz’s attorney, Steve Gittleman, declined to comment on the case.