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Press Release

Former Detroit Deputy Chief of Police and Legal Advisor Charged with Bribery and Bribery Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

A former Deputy Chief of Police for the Detroit Police Department was indicted today for bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, in connection with the corruption of towing permits in Detroit, Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch announced. 


Lemisch was joined in the announcement by David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service.


Charged was Celia Washington, 57, of Detroit. 


According to the indictment, while serving as a Deputy Police Chief and the legal advisor to the Chief of Police, Washington’s responsibilities included overseeing the Detroit Police Department’s permitting, licensing, and use of private towing companies.  As a Deputy Police Chief, Washington conspired to commit bribery with the owner of several towing companies to assist the owner with the placement of his various companies on the Detroit Police Department’s towing rotation.  Under the city’s towing rotation, private towing companies are called by the police to tow cars that are seized by the police or had been stolen.  Washington was aware that the owner of the towing companies was violating the City of Detroit’s rules prohibiting a towing company owner from having more than one company in the rotation for a particular police precinct or district.  As part of the conspiracy, Washington accepted at least $3,000 in cash as a bribe from the owner of the towing companies in February 2016.  In June 2016, Washington assisted in issuing a police towing rotation that continued to allow the owner to violate the city’s towing rules.  During the conspiracy, Washington directed the owner and his associate and relative to communicate with her concerning the towing rotations that he wanted using Washington’s private e-mail account.


The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.  The bribery conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.  


Acting United States Attorney Lemisch said, “Given her role and importance to the operation of the Detroit Police Department, it is critical that the activities of Ms. Washington are free of corruption and bribery.  We thank Chief of Police James Craig for his assistance in this investigation.”       


"Today's indictment establishes that former Deputy Police Chief Celia Washington betrayed the men and women of the Detroit Police Department and the citizens of Detroit when she prioritized personal gain over policing excellence which will always place neighborhoods and people first", said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI.   "The FBI wants the public to know that this conduct is not representative of the Detroit Police Department and we remain grateful for the support of Chief Craig and our law enforcement partners to address corrupt practices wherever those practices exist". 


 "This is extremely troubling, stated Detroit Police Chief Craig.  “It’s certainly a betrayal, not only to the men and women of this police department and my office, but the citizen of this city. We want to acknowledge both the work of the FBI and US Attorney Office in bringing closure to this matter. This was certainly a team effort and we applaud their work. The stain is present and a significant betrayal to this organization."


This case is part of the government’s wide-ranging corruption investigation centered in Macomb County, Michigan.  The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Gardey and R. Michael Bullotta.


An indictment is only a charging document and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

Updated October 11, 2017

Public Corruption