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Press Release

Former Detroit Police Lieutenant in Charge of Integrity Unit Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison for Taking Bribes Connected to Towing

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

DETROIT – A former police lieutenant in charge of the Detroit Police Department’s Integrity Unit  was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for accepting bribes in a conspiracy with another Detroit police officer in connection with corruption in the towing industry in Detroit, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today.

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.

John F. Kennedy, 57, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, 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 fellow Detroit police officer Vickers agreed to accept bribes in the form of thousands of dollars in cars, car parts, car repairs, and new carpeting for Vickers’ home. Besides making illegal tow referrals in exchange for the bribes, Vickers and Kennedy also agreed to provide the towing company that Kennedy was investigating with confidential information about the status of the Integrity Unit’s case.

In total, Kennedy accepted bribes amounting to $14,950 during the course of the conspiracy.  In addition, Vickers accepted over $3,400 in bribe payments from the towing company.

Vickers has pleaded guilty to the bribery conspiracy and was sentenced in February of this year to 27 months in prison.

Vickers and Kennedy were charged as part of the government’s investigation of corruption within the government and the Police Department of the City of Detroit relating to the towing industry and other matters.  Thus far, six defendants have been charged in the probe, and five of those six defendants have been convicted.

U.S. Attorney Ison said, “Today’s sentence underscores our commitment to ensuring local police agencies embody the utmost commitment to excellence, integrity, and professionalism. Thankfully, today’s result is not emblematic of the character of our law enforcement partners. Nevertheless, this type of immoral conduct will and must be punished. We thank Chief of Police James White for his assistance in this investigation.”   

“Police officers take an oath to protect and serve their community. Today, John Kennedy is being held accountable for violating that oath and using his official position to benefit himself personally,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “We appreciate the partnership and cooperation of Detroit Police Chief James White as the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force continues to address public corruption in the City of Detroit.”

“This former officer’s actions are unacceptable for anyone who has the privilege to wear the Detroit Police badge,” said Detroit Police Chief James E. White. “We appreciate U.S. Attorney Ison’s work to bring accountability to those who fail in their sworn duty to serve and protect the public and will continue to collaborate with her office in any investigation of alleged wrongdoing by our officers. Delivering transparent, accountable, policing excellence that Detroiters deserve is a top priority of my administration.”

The case was investigated by the Detroit Area Public 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.

Updated April 19, 2023

Public Corruption