Chesterfield Township Supervisor and Macomb Township Trustee Plead Guilty to Demanding and Taking Bribes
Two elected officials pleaded guilty today on charges of demanding and taking bribes in exchange for their official acts in connection with a municipal contract, Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch announced.
Lemisch was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios and Manny J. Muriel, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office.
Pleading guilty were former Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock, 57, of New Baltimore, and former Macomb Township Trustee Clifford Freitas, 43, of Macomb Township.
According to court records Lovelock, from approximately 2010 through 2016, demanded and accepted money from a municipal vendor in exchange for using his official position as Chesterfield Supervisor to (1) secure an extension of a contract the vendor had with the township, (2) put past due accounts of the vendor on the Chesterfield tax rolls so as to assist the vendor in getting paid by township residents, (3) obtain payment from Macomb County for the vendor for its work on flood damage that occurred in August 2014; and (4) provide a favorable reference for the vendor for other municipalities and so that Lovelock would not speak negatively about the vendor. In total, Lovelock accepted over $30,000 in cash from the vendor’s representative. In addition, Lovelock accepted two other bribe payments totaling $4,000 in cash from an undercover agent of the FBI and an individual cooperating in the investigation.
Clifford Freitas pleaded guilty to demanding and accepting money in exchange for his official acts as a Macomb Township Trustee. According to court records, Freitas demanded and accepted money from a municipal vendor in exchange for using his official position as a Trustee to get the vendor a municipal contract and to secure favorable terms for the company. In July 2015, Macomb Township put out a request for proposal for a municipal contract. Soon thereafter, Freitas approached a representative of a prospective vendor, and Freitas demanded money in return for Freitas’ support as a Trustee. Freitas agreed to accept $7,500 from the vendor in return for his assistance in getting the contract. Through his position as a Trustee, Freitas obtained sensitive bid information on the municipal contract in order to help the vendor, telling the vendor what bid was needed to beat out competing contractors. After the vendor was awarded the contract by Macomb Township, Freitas demanded an additional $35,000 from the company representative for his additional assistance as a public official relating to the contract.
Each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing has been set for October 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm in Port Huron
This investigation is being conducted by the FBI Detroit Area Corruption Task Force, a multiagency task force led by the FBI Detroit Division and comprised of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Michigan State Police, Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and several other local and federal law enforcement agencies. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys R. Michael Bullotta and David A. Gardey.