Detroit — A businessman whose phone was tapped by FBI agents investigating Macomb County corruption was charged recently accused of participating in a bribery conspiracy.
The case against Robert Maechtle, 47, of Sterling Heights, was filed six days after The Detroit News detailed how FBI agents tapped his phone during a probe that led investigators to start orbiting the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects and former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco. The Dec. 8 charge was unsealed Wednesday.
Maechtle, a manager at Motor City Electric, is accused of conspiring with others to give a $2,000 cash bribe to the late Washington Township public works superintendent Steven Hohensee. The bribe was an attempt by Maechtle’s company to secure a contract with the township in 2014, according to federal court records.
“Robert’s actions were independent and had no gain for Motor City,” the company’s lawyer Todd Flood said. “We continue to support the investigation and the government and respect where they’re going.”
Maechtle was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected.
“Mr. Maechtle has cooperated fully with the government and is prepared to accept responsibility for his role in connection with this investigation,” his lawyer John Shea said Wednesday.
Maechtle is the 19th person charged in a widespread corruption investigation that started in Macomb County and spread to Detroit.
The alleged conspiracy dates to spring 2014.
That’s when prosecutors say Maechtle conspired with two people who have struck plea deals with the government: Former Macomb County Public Works Department chief engineer James Pistilli and engineer Paulin Modi.
Pistilli and Modi facilitated communication between Maechtle, whose company was seeking a contract with Washington Township, and Hohensee, the government alleges.
Maechtle indicated he was willing to bribe Hohensee to obtain the contract, according to court records.
In June 2014, Pistilli met Maechtle and the two talked about paying the Washington Township official $2,000. Months later, Maechtle met with Hohensee and offered to pay the bribe.
On Oct. 20, 2014, Maechtle met Hohensee and gave him the $2,000 bribe, according to court records.
Hohensee was among those charged during the ongoing corruption investigation and started cooperating with the FBI. He died in October of apparent natural causes.