DETROIT – Former Detroit Police Lieutenant John F. Kennedy pleaded guilty today to conspiring with another Detroit police officer to commit bribery, in connection with the corruption of towing permits in Detroit, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Kennedy, 57, of Rochester Hills, at one point commanded the Detroit Police Department’s Integrity Unit—a division of the department’s Internal Affairs Division—and was responsible for investigating reports of law violations and professional misconduct by police officers and other city employees. Kennedy conspired with fellow Detroit police officer Daniel S. Vickers to commit bribery by accepting money and other items of value in exchange for Kennedy using and promising to use his influence as a supervisor to persuade other officers to make tow referrals to a towing company in violation of the city’s ordinance and Detroit Police Department policy. Under the city’s towing rotation, qualifying private towing companies are called by the police to tow cars that are seized by the police or reported stolen. Kennedy and Vickers were aware that by making towing referrals directly to a towing company which was not on the city’s towing rotation, they were violating the city’s rules and an ordinance which prohibit a towing company from receiving towing referrals if they are not on police department’s towing rotation.
Kennedy and Vickers also conspired to solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash, cars, car parts, car repairs, and new carpeting for Vickers’ home, in exchange for providing the towing company that Kennedy was investigating with information about the status of the Integrity Unit’s case.
In total, between October 2018, and March 2021, Kennedy accepted over $14,000 in cash, cars, and car repairs as a bribe from the owner of the towing company and from an undercover federal agent.
The bribery conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
United States Attorney Ison said, “Today’s plea represents our commitment to ensuring that the citizens of Detroit are protected by officers characterized by the highest levels of integrity. We will not accept members of law enforcement who prioritize their personal gain over policing excellence. We thank Chief of Police James White for his assistance in this investigation.”
“Today, John Kennedy has admitted to using his official position for his personal benefit. His actions are not in keeping with the integrity and professionalism exhibited by the Detroit Police Department,” said James A. Tarasca of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The FBI appreciates the partnership and cooperation of Police Chief James White as we continue to address public corruption in the City of Detroit.”
"I'm disappointed that this officer has tarnished the badge that represents integrity and professionalism," said Detroit Police Chief James E. White. "The actions of one officer clearly do not represent the largest policing agency in the state of Michigan and those who put themselves in harm's way each day. We will continue to fully cooperate with our federal partners, and most importantly, be transparent with our community."
The case was investigated by the Detroit Area Corruption Task Force, which is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Detroit Police Department, Michigan Attorney General's Office, Customs & Border Protection, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eaton P. Brown and originally indicted by United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.