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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 23, 2014

Former Teamsters Official Sentenced On Bribery Charge

Michael Townsend, age 69, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a former business agent and trustee of Teamsters Local 337, was ordered to pay a fine of $18,000 as a result of his felony conviction on union bribery charges, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge James Vanderberg, Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and L. Joe Rivers, Regional Director, Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Townsend was also ordered to serve two years supervised release during his sentencing hearing today before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow in Detroit. 

According to court records, from 2005 through 2008, Townsend took quarterly cash bribes totaling $18,000 from an officer of LaGrasso Brothers Produce, Inc. in Detroit in exchange for protecting the company from unionizing efforts by Teamsters Local 337.

In February 2014, Judge Tarnow sentenced Sam LaGrasso Produce, Inc. to a fine of $500,000.  The court also required the company to make quarterly donations of $1,500 to a local non-profit food bank for five years – an amount equivalent to the bribe payments made by the company.  Sam LaGrosso Produce operates in the Eastern Market area of Detroit. 

The case was investigated by agents and officers of the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Morris and Mark Chutkow.

Updated March 19, 2015