Supervisor of Royal Oak Township Sentenced
The former Supervisor of Royal Oak Township, William Morgan, was sentenced in federal court today to a term of imprisonment of 36 months, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. Morgan had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), violating the federal Clean Air Act, committing bribery.
Joining in the announcement were Acting Special Agent in Charge Edward Hanko, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Randall Ashe, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in Michigan
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Victoria A. Roberts.
Morgan’s criminal conduct involved the awarding of a contract and distribution of federal funds that were intended to be used by communities for the improvement of blighted areas by removal of dilapidated buildings, pursuant to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which was administered by HUD. In addition to being Township Supervisor, Morgan was the Township coordinator for NSP.
Prior to the awarding of the contract, Morgan had received a $10,000 bribe from Sureguard/PBM, one of the companies that submitted a bid for the demolition of an abandoned theater on Eight Mile Road and the asbestos removal from that theater. In return for the bribe, Morgan attempted to steer the contract to Sureguard/PBM. Despite Morgan’s efforts, the Board of Supervisors awarded the contract to another company, which submitted a lower bid.
During the demolition process, Morgan caused a fraudulently inflated change order in the amount of $168,892 to be submitted regarding the asbestos removal from the theater.
In addition, Morgan asked for, and received, cash payments of $500 and $1,000 from the owner of the company that had won the contract. These payments were received by Morgan with the belief that there were given in return for his participation in the fraudulent scheme. At the time the owner of the company was cooperating with the FBI in the investigation.
“Any public official, in city or suburb, who works to enrich himself at the expense of the public will be detected and prosecuted,” McQuade said. “It is particularly disturbing when an official not only takes bribes but also endangers community health and the environment by allowing the bribes to influence abatement decisions.”
FBI Interim Special Agent in Charge Hanko said, “This sentencing sends a strong message that any public official who seeks to abuse public trust and rob citizens of honest government will be brought to justice. The FBI and its law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out this type of corruption at local, state and federal levels."
“Citizens expect public officials to base their decisions on the law and the public interest, even more so when governments are facing tight budgets," said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan. "Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, so it is reprehensible that in this case a supervisor made decisions regarding asbestos abatement in buildings owned by the Township based not on what was needed to protect the health of the community but because he solicited a bribe. Today's sentence shows that government officials who attempt to line their pockets rather than carry out their responsibilities honestly will be prosecuted to the full extent to the law."
One of Morgan’s co-conspirators, Terrance Parker, received a sentence of 21 months. Two of the other co-conspirators have yet to be sentenced.
The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI, HUD’s Office of Inspector General and U.S. Environmental Division, Criminal Investigation Division.