AG charges 7 cops with auto inspection fraud
Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette on Thursday announced charges against seven current or former Michigan police officers accused of taking part in fraudulent auto inspections.
All told, 101 felony charges involving 101 vehicles have been filed in the seven cases, and involve the inspections of so-called salvage vehicles, which can't return to the road until "recertified" and "retitled" by a "specially trained" police officer authorized to do so by their department. Those accused face charges of uttering and publishing. Each charge is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
In a statement explaining the charges, Schuette says that salvage titles are issued when a vehicle is declared totaled by an insurance company. The seven people charged were trained and certified, Schuette said.
When police do inspections of salvage vehicles, they are to check the Law Enforcement Information Network, or LEIN, to ensure the vehicle and the parts in it have not been stolen. Investigators who performed spot checks found that officers had allegedly falsely claimed to have done the required LEIN checks, but hadn't. Nor did the officers check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an insurance industry database of stolen vehicles, Schuette claims.
"The process of identifying affected vehicles is ongoing," the release says.
The officers and former officers charged are:
- Tammy Barnes, 59, charged with 18 counts of uttering and publishing in 7th District Court West in South Haven.
- Elaine Danishevskaya, 39, charged with 25 counts of uttering and publishing in 7th District Court West in South Haven.
- Kevin Reif, 43, charged with 13 counts of uttering and publishing in 17th District Court in Redford.
- Tim Greene, 42, charged with six counts of uttering and publishing in 53rd District Court in Howell. He conducted inspections under the authority of the Hamburg Police Department.
- Robert Greene, 64, charged with 11 counts of uttering and publishing in 53rd District Court in Howell. He conducted inspections under the authority of the Hamburg Police Department.
- John Greene, 43, charged with 7 counts of uttering and publishing in 53rd District Court in Howell. He conducted inspections under the authority of the Hamburg Police Department.
- Greg Bumgardner, 44, charged with 21 counts of uttering and publishing in 27th District Court in Riverview.
Megan Hawthorne, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said that by law, an officer need not be employed and authorized by the same department.
This was the case for at least three of the seven officers: Tammy Barnes, a Detroit Police Department officer who conducted inspections under the authority of the Bangor Police Department, and Tim and John Greene, brothers who conducted inspections under the authority of the Hamburg Township Police Department while employed, respectively, by Northfield Township Police Department and Detroit Public Schools Community District Police.
The Greene brothers' father, Robert Greene, a former Van Buren Township officer, did inspections under the authority of Hamburg Police.
Richard Duffany, chief of police for Hamburg Township, said the township was approached in 2012 by Tim Greene, with neighboring Northfield police, about conducting salvage inspections for the department.
Ultimately, the township board approved contracts for all three Greenes, but those were canceled in November 2016, when Hamburg learned of the investigation, Duffany said.
Today, four of Hamburg's 17 police officers conduct salvage investigations, but no outsiders do.