Two New Haven Trustees Charged with Demanding and Taking Bribes
An elected Trustee of New Haven, Michigan was charged today in a criminal complaint with demanding and taking a bribe in exchange for his official acts in connection with a municipal contract, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade announced. In addition, a former Trustee of New Haven was charged in a criminal information with accepting multiple bribes.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios and Manny J. Muriel, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office.
Christopher Craigmiles, 43, of Lenox Township, is charged in a complaint with engaging in corrupt activity, including demanding and accepting money in exchange for official acts as a Trustee of New Haven. Craigmiles is a current, elected Trustee of the Village of New Haven. Brett Harris, 57, of New Haven, is charged in an information with accepting multiple bribes in exchange for a promise to support a future municipal contract for the village. Harris was an elected Trustee of New Haven until losing re-election in November 2016. The charges against Craigmiles and Harris are part of an ongoing and long-running investigation into systemic corruption in multiple municipalities in southeast Michigan, primarily Macomb County. The investigation has employed telephone wiretaps, consensual audio and video recordings by cooperative individuals, undercover operations, physical surveillance, telephone tracking warrants, and subpoenas of financial records and other documents.
The criminal information against Harris charges that Harris conspired with Craigmiles and former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds to engage in bribery in the summer of 2016. Reynolds unwittingly introduced Harris to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a consultant to a company that has contracts with various municipalities in southeast Michigan—referred to in the information as “Company A.” Reynolds told the undercover agent that Harris was a public official who would be willing to take bribes in exchange for his vote on a future contract with Company A. Previously, Reynolds had accepted $17,000 in cash bribes from the undercover agent and between $50,000 and $70,000 in bribes from an executive of Company A, and Reynolds is currently charged in a pending federal indictment. After being introduced to the undercover agent by Reynolds, Harris accepted multiple bribes amounting to $11,000 in cash from the undercover agent in exchange for his vote as a Trustee on a future contract between New Haven and Company A. In August 2016, Harris then introduced the undercover agent to Craigmiles. Harris identified Craigmiles as being another New Haven Trustee who would accept bribes. The criminal complaint charges Craigmiles with accepting a $5,000 cash bribe from the undercover FBI agent in August 2016. Craigmiles agreed to support a future contract for Company A in exchange for the money.
“Our elected officials must make decisions based on what is best for the people and our communities, not based on whether they are given cash,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade. “Elected officials who violate the public trust by accepting bribes must be arrested and prosecuted.”
"Today's announcement of public corruption charges, in the Village of New Haven, demonstrates the FBI's unyielding commitment to aggressively investigate public servants, past or present, who accept bribes in exchange for official actions, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. "Illegal conduct as described today erodes the trust and confidence community members place in their elected officials and threatens the integrity of our system of governance."
This investigation is being conducted by the FBI Detroit Area Corruption Task Force, a multiagency task force led by the FBI Detroit Division and comprised of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Michigan State Police, Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and several other local and federal law enforcement agencies. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys R. Michael Bullotta and David A. Gardey.
Upon conviction for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666, federal program bribery, Craigmiles faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Upon conviction for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, Harris faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Court appearances for Craigmiles and Harris will take place sometime next week.
A complaint and an information are only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment.
The FBI requests that anyone having information regarding public officials accepting bribes is encouraged to contact the Detroit Division of the FBI at 313-965-2222.