Councilor Saba’s Conflict of Interest, A Criminal Complaint, and a $48K Payout

Councilor Saba Wants City to Pay His Legal
Bills After Being Named in Lawsuit

SABA2The City of Methuen has paid out $48,000 to the owner of a Sober House on Quincy Street to settle a lawsuit, in part because of “discriminatory statements” made by city councilors in 2018. The lawsuit claims that members of the city council and employees of the city violated her right to open a sober home on Quincy Street. The federal government identifies those in recovery as “disabled” and as such any discrimination against a sober house would violate federal law. First Amended Complaint

Court documents from the lawsuit reveal that a sitting City Councilor, Steve Saba not only participated in the initial council discussion while his brother was directly affected by his actions, but that both John and Steve Sabas’ comments were used by the defendant in the lawsuit to show the city had targeted the homeowner unfairly and in violated federal law.

The owner of the sober home was asking for “reasonable accommodations” under the Fair Housing Law and anti discrimination laws. She said that representatives from the city were determined to throw roadblocks in her way and targeted the home to be shut down. In fact, Councilor Saba’s brother, John, [who is a neighbor of the sober home on Quincy St.]  encouraged the city council, Economic Development Director Bill Buckley, and other city employees to do just that.

At a city council meeting on February 20, 2018 the council was briefed on the city’s efforts to issue a cease and desist order against the sober home, shutting them down immediately. The call to shut down the sober home was led in part by City Councilor Steve Saba’s brother, John Saba. John encouraged the city council to use zoning laws and building codes to try and have the home shut down.


“We have the right to shut that house down based on zoning period. And if they want to bring the fight to the city, then let them bring the fight to the city because I think we have a choice here. You either get the fight from us, a group of people who are angry at this, or you get the fight from the one, the lady who’s trying to circumvent the law. If I was you, I would side with us.”

Councilor Saba’s brother also suggested that the city fine her for every day she doesn’t shut down, something that happened a few weeks later and was the subject of the lawsuit that was settled with the city.

“So tomorrow I would hope we go ahead with the plan and we shut them down, but, I’d like to know what is the recourse when she doesn’t shut it down? . . . I hope she is going to get fine every day. I hope we are going to make it difficult on her.”


Shortly after John Saba made these comments, his brother City Councilor Steve Saba, advocated for his brother’s position from the council table in violation of the conflicts of interest laws. This after John Saba made it clear at the microphone that he had a personal interest in the outcome of the sober home as he one of their neighbors.

“I’m getting a little tired of being told by the state that -­- -­- you now, they jam 40B up our throats here. They’re jamming 40A up our throats. This is our city, and I know that other cities fight. . . we’ve got to stop just saying there’s nothing we can do. We’ve got about this many lawsuits that we deal with on a regular basis. This is one that I’m not afraid,” Councilor Steve Saba said predicting a lawsuit.

Saba’s comments were specifically mentioned in the complaint against the city that led to the$48,000 settlement payout to the owner of the sober home.  Donohue Settlement Agreement and Letters


criminal complaint

Because the city was targeting the disabled by purposely using city zoning laws and other codes to shut down a sober home in violation of federal law, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made a criminal referral [request for a criminal investigation]to the U.S. Justice Department charging that officials from the City of Methuen purposely discriminated against the disabled and violated the Fair Housing Act.


The Valley Patriot has learned that City Councilor Steve Saba and another councilor has asked Mayor Perry to have the city indemnify city councilors, shielding them personally from civil lawsuits and leaving the city on the hook if councilors actions and comments result in a civil judgement against them.

Councilor Saba has added the issue to the next city council agenda where he will be asking the council’s approval to indemnify him from any personal lawsuits that result from his abuse of power (or any other councilor) while acting in his duties as a city council.