Former Ferndale housing director allegedly violates probation

Court date set for March 19

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published March 11, 2015


Former Ferndale Housing Commission Director Deborah Wilson has been arraigned for allegedly violating her probation less than a week after she was sentenced to three years of probation following a no contest plea to home invasion and drug-related charges.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford-Morris sentenced Wilson Feb. 26 to three years of probation and one day in jail, which she already had served, for two counts of second-degree home invasion and one count of possession of a controlled substance. A warrant for the probation violation was issued only a few days later and she was arraigned March 4 in front of Langford-Morris.

According to Langford-Morris’ office, the details of Wilson’s alleged probation violation will be released during her next court appearance at 1:30 p.m. March 19.

Wilson was arrested on Nov. 3 of last year after investigators reportedly saw her exiting a tenant’s apartment at Withington West Apartments, which is owned by the Housing Commission.

An Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Team investigator reportedly had received information that Wilson had been stealing prescription narcotics from tenants. After observing Wilson leaving the apartment, according to the Sheriff’s Office, the investigator found 21 Percocet tablets in Wilson’s office and determined that Wilson had been replacing tenants’ medications with generic Tylenol.

Wilson, 52, of Clinton Township, had served as Ferndale Housing Commission director for 27 years. The commission appointed a new acting manager, Emily Vickey, four days after Wilson’s arrest.

Because of the alleged probation violation, Wilson could face a more strict penalty, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said. The second-degree home invasion charges both carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison. The possession of a controlled substance of less than 25 grams is a four-year felony.

Cooper said Langford-Morris would determine March 19 whether Wilson did violate her probation and could sentence her immediately.

“In legal parlance, probation is a privilege, not a right, and if you violate that probation, you go back in front of the judge,” Cooper said. “It is up to the discretion of the judge, but this is a 15-year felony.”

The Housing Commission agreed a week prior to Wilson’s sentencing to pay her $130,000 in severance, which will be paid over six months for a settlement that includes six months’ salary and 75 percent of her accrued vacation and sick days.

Commission attorney Justin Smith said at the time that Wilson’s contract included a one-year severance clause, but it did not include a clause that would forfeit the severance pay based on any kind of misconduct.

After hearing about the violation of probation, Smith said he had no comment on the situation, but said it would not affect her severance.

“As far as my client (the Housing Commission) is concerned, we are pretty much done with our relationship with Deborah,” he said. “It is a matter of interest to us, certainly, but at this point in time there is no contact with her. It wouldn’t affect any prior arrangement with my group, as there was no clause in the severance agreement that provided a contingent on her remaining in good standing for any standing probationary term.”

Because of the severance, the Housing Commission will allow Vickey to continue to serve in her current role for the duration of the payment period, at which time they will look at hiring a permanent director.

Wilson’s lawyer, Jack Jaffe, could not be reached immediately for this story.