Prosecutors’ letters for convicted cop ‘inappropriate’

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Several assistant Wayne County Prosecutors who wrote letters to a federal judge asking for a lenient sentence for a convicted Detroit police officer, have run afoul of their bosses at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

David Hansberry, 35, along with fellow officer and co-defendant Bryan Watson, 47, were convicted of felony extortion last July.

Hansberry and Watson were acquitted of nine other charges in the five-week trial that accused them of arranging drug transactions with civilians so they could rob and extort them. The two officers, who were members of the department’s now-disbanded narcotics unit, face 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion and robbery.

Worthy on Friday noted the four assistant prosecutors who sent letters of support on Hansberry’s behalf failed to disclose their action to Worthy or their supervisors. Each, she said, wrote “in their professional capacity to advocate for a federally convicted defendant.”

“Their behavior was highly inappropriate and I am extremely disappointed in their lack of judgment. I would never condone their acting in their professional capacity,” Worthy said in the statement released to The Detroit News Friday. “I have spoken personally with acting United States Attorney Barbara McQuade about this situation and expressed my concern. We will be speaking to the assistant prosecutors involved to determine what action will be taken.”

In one letter, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Elizabeth Van Marcke urged the judge to be lenient, writing Hansberry is a hard-working police officer who “served his police department and his community through hard work and dedication.”

“The man that was presented in court was not the man I know,” Van Marcke wrote. “Dave Hansberry is a public servant dedicated to policing the community he loves, a friend, and a father.”

Hansberry and Watson were indicted in April 2015 by a federal grand jury on charges of conducting traffic stops and phony arrests to allegedly steal drugs, money and property.

Kevlin “Omar” Brown, a longtime friend of Hansberry, was also indicted but ultimately cleared in the case.

McQuade said the evidence showed Hansberry, who was a sergeant at the time, and Watson failed to record into evidence money and drugs seized during searches of homes. Federal prosecutors say the pair instead split the proceeds and arranged for the sale of the drugs, sharing the proceeds from the sales.

In one instance in July 2010, Hansberry and Watson participated in a drug seizure that netted more than $3 million, the largest cash seizure by the Detroit Police Department at that time. Only $2.2 million, however, was placed in the evidence room.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Christina Guirguis also wrote glowingly about Hansberry saying she and the police officer had known each through her job as a prosecutor for 14 years.

“His work is unmatched and this work ethic was exemplified through his work at the Narcotics Section of the Detroit Police Department,” Guirguis wrote in her letter dated Dec. 31, 2016. “David Hansberry is one of the hardest working, dedicated officers within the Detroit Police Department and has a reputation as such.”

Guirguis went on to explain that she worked as one of four prosecutors in the office’s Major Drug Unit and during that time Hansberry’s narcotics unit was know as an “elite crew.”

“David’s crew brought arrest warrants to the Major Drug Unit that reflected major narcotics confiscations from major narcotics dealers,” Guirguis wrote in her letter to U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy.

Guirguis told The News she would not be able to comment on the letters as directed by her office.

Assistant prosecutors Amy Somers and Ron Haywood also wrote to Murphy, seeking a probation sentence for Hansberry.

“In light of David’s exemplary career and years of service to the city of Detroit, I request that you consider sentencing him to a period of probation, ” wrote Somers in her letter written Nov. 28. Haywood’s letter was written in Nov. 14.

Hansberry and Watson are scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.

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