A former Deputy Chief of Police for the Detroit Police Department, Celia Washington, 57, of Detroit, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Gasper Fiore to commit bribery, in connection with the corruption of towing permits in Detroit, Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch announced today.
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.
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. During the plea hearing today, Washington admitted to accepting $3,000 in cash from tow company owner Gasper Fiore. On December 20, 2017, Fiore pleaded guilty to bribing Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds in connection with a Clinton Township towing contract. Washington admitted that she knew that Fiore was using the cash bribe to seek to influence her in the selection of tow rotations in the City of Detroit for Fiore’s towing companies. 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. When she accepted the bribe, Washington was aware that Fiore 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. After she accepted the $3,000 cash bribe from Fiore, Washington assisted in issuing a police towing rotation list that continued to allow Fiore to violate the city’s towing rules and that significantly benefited Fiore’s companies. Although Washington had claimed that the $3,000 in cash from Fiore was a “loan,” Washington admitted during her guilty plea that she kept the money and had spent some of it when she knew Fiore was seeking to bribe her in connection with the city’s tow rotations.
The bribery conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Acting United States Attorney Lemisch said: “Former Deputy Police Chief Washington’s crime was a serious breach of the public’s trust. The public must have every confidence that its police force is free of corruption and bribery. We again thank Chief of Police James Craig for his assistance in this investigation.”
"Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the allure of financial gain, even if ill-begotten, sometimes overcomes the impulse to do what is right”, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “It is our hope that the continued march of dishonest individuals before the Federal bench for their crimes will serve as a reminder to anyone who believes corrupt practices will go unpunished.”
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.