Derrick Hicks, a Bloomfield Hills businessman accused of plotting to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison Wednesday for his role in the Macomb County public corruption scandal.
The sentence is the longest issued so far in the wide-reaching corruption scandal that has led to charges against 18 people and 12 convictions.
The corruption investigation is focused on at least three fronts: Macomb County politicians pocketing bribes in exchange for approving municipal contracts with Sterling Heights trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services, Grosse Pointe Shores businessman Gasper Fiore’s towing empire and the Macomb County Public Works office.
The sentence by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland in federal court in Port Huron comes five months after Hicks, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Hicks also was sentenced to two years’ supervised release and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. The 21-month sentence was three months longer than that imposed on former New Haven Trustee Christopher Craigmiles.
Hicks, meanwhile, was owner and CEO of Southfield-based ASAP Services Inc., which provided garbage carts to tens of thousands of homes serviced by Rizzo’s trash company.
Hicks admitted committing wire fraud by embezzling money from Rizzo Environmental Services between 2013 and October 2016.
“Although Hicks was not a leader of the scheme, Hicks and his company, ASAP Services, were key and necessary components of the fraud,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “His crime was serious, and his involvement in it was extensive.”
At trash hauling CEO Chuck Rizzo’s direction, Hicks inflated invoices to Rizzo Environmental Services that exaggerated the number of garbage carts delivered by ASAP Services, according to court records. The embezzlement totaled more than $500,000.
Hicks kept some of the cash and split the rest every week with Chuck Rizzo and former Rizzo employee Quintin Ramanauskas, according to the plea deal.
In October 2015, Hicks delivered $50,000 cash to Chuck Rizzo, according to the plea deal. The next month, he gave $3,000 to Ramanauskas.
The government alleges Rizzo, his father Charles Rizzo, Detroit towing mogul Gasper Fiore, Hicks and others plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services using a fake legal settlement agreement, fraudulent consulting deals, kickbacks, shell companies and stealing money to help pay for Chuck Rizzo’s mansion in Bloomfield Township.
Some of the stolen money bankrolled bribes for public officials to maintain and secure additional municipal garbage contracts, prosecutors say.
Chuck Rizzo called the embezzled cash OPM, short for “other people’s money,” according to prosecutors.
Hicks’ lawyer, Kimberly Stout, requested a sentence of 18 months or less. Hicks is a hard-working entrepreneur who overcame a difficult childhood before getting involved with Rizzo, his lawyer wrote in a court filing.
“(Hicks) knew it was wrong but also naively believed that this was how ‘big business’ was done,” Stout wrote.