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Feds: Bag man delivered bribes to Macomb officials

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit – Federal prosecutors have charged a sixth person in a widening public corruption scandal involving Macomb County politicians and a trash-hauling company.

Shelby Township resident Quintin Ramanauskas was charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud and accused of delivering bribes to public officials, according to federal court records.

He is a former commercial manager with trash-hauling firm Rizzo Environmental Services, the Sterling Heights company that is accused of bribing public officials as it expanded a business empire that reached 54 Metro Detroit communities.

Quintin Ramanauskas

Ramanauskas, 53, left a $3,000 bribe for Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds in November 2015 and a bribe totaling several thousand dollars for former Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock in fall 2015, according to court records.

And in October 2015, an unidentified co-conspirator sent an email containing fraudulent financial information from Michigan to a New York company, according to court records.

Ramanauskas was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected. He could not be reached for comment Monday and there is no defense attorney listed in the case file.

Ramanauskas left the company in February though circumstances surrounding his departure were unclear Monday.

Rizzo expands empire after pumping cash into campaigns

Rizzo, which was acquired by Toronto-based GFL Environmental Inc. in October, is not named in any of the complaints against the six defendants. However, the company acknowledged earlier this year that it was cooperating with the government investigation.

A GFL spokesman declined comment Monday beyond confirming Ramanauskas’ job title and date he left the company.

Rizzo has dominated trash contracts in Metro Detroit communities for the last decade. Competing trash hauler Waste Management said it lost nearly half of its trash deals to Rizzo during that time period.

Quintin Ramanauskas bought this 3,200-square-foot house from Rizzo Environmental Services COO Jeff Rizzo in December, according to public records

The company’s former CEO Chuck Rizzo resigned last fall after the government started charging Macomb County politicians in the widening bribery scandal. His brother, COO Jeff Rizzo, remained with the company until about two months ago.

Ramanauskas, meanwhile, was a dispatcher for Rizzo Environmental Services when he filed bankruptcy in June 2004.

Despite a long history of financial problems, and unpaid taxes, Ramanauskas bought a $385,616, 3,200-square-foot home in Shelby Township in December.

The seller: Jeff Rizzo.

In March, four months after buying the house, the IRS accused Ramanauskas of failing to pay $71,346 in federal income taxes, according to public records.

Ramanauskas owes the taxes from 2013-15, according to a copy of the federal tax lien.

He also has had state tax problems. The state has filed tax liens against Ramanauskas totaling more than $9,400 since 2009.

If Ramanauskas pleads guilty, he could give prosecutors a witness against Reynolds, the last public official charged in the case who has not struck a plea deal with the government.

Reynolds was indicted in November and accused of taking $50,000 to $70,000 in cash from Rizzo in exchange for supporting the firm's $3.5 million annual contract bid. He also was charged with taking $17,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent.

Former Macomb Township Trustee Clifford Freitas has struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors and is expected to plead guilty June 1, according to federal court records.

The nature of the plea hearing is unclear, but Freitas is charged with bribery conspiracy involving federal funds, a five-year felony.

Freitas is accused of pocketing $7,500 in bribes from Rizzo between July 2015 and January 2016.

Lovelock also is expected to plead guilty June 1. In November, he was indicted on four counts of conspiracy and demanding bribes in exchange for corruptly influencing his decisions as a supervisor.

Federal prosecutors accused him of taking multiple bribes totaling more than $30,000 from 2010-16 from a company that had a "significant contract" with Chesterfield Township. Rizzo has provided the company's trash services for the past 12 years, officials say.

Former New Haven trustees Christopher Craigmiles and Brett Harris also were accused of taking bribes from an FBI agent posing as a Rizzo employee.

Both have reached plea deals and are awaiting sentencing dates in federal court.

Last week, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said a federal grand jury is investigating her office and has subpoenaed testimony from about a dozen public employees.

FBI agents are asking questions about Miller’s predecessor, Anthony Marrocco; his former deputy, Dino Bucci, and millions of dollars in payments to an unnamed county contractor, Miller said.

rsnell@detnews.com

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews