Feds haul tow titan Fiore into court in bribery case
Detroit — Detroit towing titan Gasper Fiore was arraigned in federal court Tuesday on charges he participated in a widespread bribery conspiracy in Macomb County.
The Grosse Pointe Shores business mogul is one of 12 people charged in the latest public corruption scandal to hit Metro Detroit in recent years, following scandals at Detroit City Hall, Detroit Public Schools and Wayne County government that led to convictions of more than 40 people, including ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Fiore, 56, owner of Boulevard and Trumbull Towing, the city’s largest tow firm, has long been a dominant figure in the Metro Detroit towing industry. His firm has municipal contracts in several communities, and federal prosecutors say Fiore built his empire by bribing at least one elected official.
That former politician is Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds. Fiore and Reynolds are charged with multiple counts of bribery-related offenses in connection with a towing contract. In early 2016, Fiore allegedly gave Reynolds bribes totaling $7,000, prosecutors allege.
Fiore was arraigned at 1:40 p.m., almost two weeks after he was indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of participating in a bribery conspiracy. The alleged conspiracy involves public officials pocketing bribes in exchange for approving municipal contracts with Fiore’s company and Macomb County garbage company Rizzo Environmental Services.
Fiore faces charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, that could send him to prison for 20 years. His lawyer has declined comment.
His arraignment before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford lasted about four minutes. During the proceedings, Fiore stood mute and a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
Stafford set a bond of $10,000 for Fiore and said his case is assigned to Judge Robert Cleland.
Fiore's next appearance in the federal court has not yet been scheduled.
Former Rizzo Environmental Services CEO Chuck Rizzo, his father Charles Rizzo, Fiore, businessman Derrick Hicks and others plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services, authorities allege. The alleged scheme involved 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, the government alleges.
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.
Fiore also was a minor figure in the corruption case against Kilpatrick in 2012.
That year, Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were charged in federal court and accused of allegedly extorting more than $90,000 from Fiore.
Federal prosecutors later dropped the Fiore allegation to avoid a potential conflict of interest involving Kilpatrick's lawyer.
Staff writer Charles E. Ramirez contributed.