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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 23, 2013

Former Teamsters Official Pleads Guilty To Bribery Charge

Michael Townsend, age 69, a former business agent and trustee of Teamsters Local 337, pleaded guilty to bribery charges today, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. 

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge James Vanderberg, Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Patrick Kawa, District Supervisor, Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Townsend entered his guilty plea during a hearing today before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow in Detroit. 

According to court records, from June 2005 through mid-July 2008, Townsend took bribes in the form of cash payments totaling approximately $18,000 from an officer of LaGrasso Brothers Produce, Inc. in Detroit in exchange for protecting the company from unionizing efforts by Teamsters Local 337.

"This defendant was a union official who was entrusted to help working people organize," McQuade said.  "He betrayed the Teamsters and workers for his own profit.  We are seeking to hold him accountable for his conduct."

Townsend is facing a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by agents and officers of the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and  the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.    It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Morris and Mark Chutkow.

Updated March 19, 2015