Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci Charged with Bribery, Extortion, Fraud, Theft and Money Laundering
Macomb Township Trustee and former Macomb County official Dino Bucci, 58, of Macomb Township, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on eighteen counts of conspiracy, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, mail fraud, and money laundering, in connection with public contracts in Macomb Township and the Macomb County Department of Public Works, Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch announced.
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.
Count One of the indictment charges Bucci with participating in a nine-year long bribery conspiracy with other public officials and with various contractors. As part of the conspiracy, Bucci directed contractors to give him tens of thousands of dollars in cash, checks, and gift cards in exchange for work and contracts with Macomb Township and Macomb County. Bucci also directed the contractors to give him hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks and cash as part of political fundraising events, including golf outings and dinners, in exchange for county and township contracts. During the course of the conspiracy, Bucci served as an elected Trustee of Macomb Township and as the Operations Manager, among other positions, at the Macomb County Department of Public Works.
As part of the conspiracy, engineering and other contractors knew that they had to “pay-to-play” in order to get county and township contracts by giving money to Bucci and buying tickets to political fundraisers for Bucci and his political allies. One contractor decided to “get in the game” by purchasing thousands of dollars in fundraising tickets in order to get engineering contracts.
In addition to bribery, Bucci is charged with engaging in extortion over the course of at least five years. In this regard, Bucci used his official positions at the county and the township to threaten to withhold permits on development work and home construction in order to force them to pay him tens of thousands of dollars in cash and kickbacks.
Other counts of the indictment charge Bucci with embezzling and conspiring to embezzle tens of thousands of dollars from Macomb Township through a variety of criminal and fraud schemes. For example, Bucci got one contractor awarded a job to pave the Macomb Township Hall parking lot for over $250,000. Unbeknownst to the township, however, Bucci had gotten another contractor to do the work for just over $180,000, with Bucci collecting a kickback of $66,000 in cash in a bag at the headquarters of the Macomb County Department of Public Works.
Bucci also is charged in the indictment with stealing from Macomb County by using county employees and equipment to do personal work for Bucci. For example, for years, Bucci forced county employees to plow the snow at Bucci’s residence and at his mother’s residence every time it snowed. When there was a heavy snowfall, Bucci would force county employees to plow the snow for other relatives and friends. Bucci ensured that his home was plowed before county facilities were taken care of by the employees. County employees also did lawn and other maintenance work at Bucci’s home, and one employee was forced to drive Bucci’s child to a school about 25 minutes away. Bucci threatened to dock the pay of county employees, take away overtime opportunities, and send them to undesirable work locations if they refused to do this personal work for him.
Portions of today’s indictment against Bucci charge him with offenses that involve Charles B. Rizzo, Clifford Freitas, Christopher Sorrentino, and Paulin Modi. Each of these men have already pleaded guilty to federal corruption felonies involving Macomb County contracting.
Each of the nine bribery and embezzlement charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Each of the six mail fraud, extortion, and money laundering counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The three bribery conspiracy counts each carry a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Acting United States Attorney Lemisch said, “Today’s sweeping indictment of Mr. Bucci, who was a public official of both Macomb County and Macomb Township, embodies our unbending resolve to unwind long established pay-to-play politics and call to task corrupt officials no matter where they seek to violate the public trust.”
“The crimes as alleged in today’s indictment highlight a pervasive pattern of past corrupt and illegal practices in Macomb County”, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “As such, the FBI and the IRS will continue in the foreseeable future to dedicate investigative resources in Macomb County and elsewhere until the public’s trust in elected officials is bolstered, and honest and responsible government is the order of the day.”
“The eighteen-count indictment handed down today should reassure the public that the investigative team will not leave any rock unturned in the Macomb County corruption investigation,” stated Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Bringing to justice those involved in this near decade long scheme should send a loud and clear message to others that abusing your position as a public official and stealing from the taxpayers will not be tolerated.”
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, R. Michael Bullotta, and Adriana Dydell.
An indictment is only a charging document and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt