DETROIT – A former Detroit Police Officer pleaded guilty today to conspiring with a Detroit police lieutenant to commit bribery in connection with corruption in the towing industry 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.
Daniel Vickers, 54, of Livonia, Michigan, spent his career as a police officer in Detroit. During the plea hearing, Vickers admitted to conspiring with Detroit Police Lieutenant John F. Kennedy. Kennedy at one point commanded the department’s Public Integrity Unit, a division of the Internal Affairs Division responsible for investigating reports of law violations and professional misconduct by police officers and other city employees. The two conspired 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 pleaded guilty to the bribery conspiracy in August 2022.
Vickers also admitted that he and Kennedy 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 Public Integrity Unit’s case.
In total, between February 2018, and June 2018, Vickers accepted over $3,400 in bribe payments from the towing company. In addition, Kennedy accepted bribes amounting to $14,950 during the course of the conspiracy.
Based on his conviction for bribery conspiracy, Vickers faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Vickers pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Laurie J. Michelson.
Vickers and Kennedy were charged as part of the government’s investigation known as “Operation Northern Hook.” Northern Hook is an 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.
United States Attorney Ison said, “Today’s plea represents our commitment to holding our law enforcement officers to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. Our citizens deserve nothing less. We thank Chief of Police James White for his assistance in this investigation.”
“Daniel Vickers used his official position to personally benefit himself. His actions are not in keeping with the integrity and professionalism exhibited by the Detroit Police Department day in and day out,” 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.”
“The actions of these former officers are completely unacceptable for a Detroit Police officer,” said Detroit Police Chief James E. White. “We appreciate U.S. Attorney Ison’s work to rid our city of corruption and will continue to collaborate in any investigation of alleged wrongdoing by our officers. It is a top priority of my administration to ensure that Detroit citizens can rely on our officers to act ethically.”
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 U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eaton P. Brown and was originally indicted by United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.