Businessman guilty in Detroit airport scandal

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A businessman who bankrolled former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco’s failed re-election campaign and who factored into the landmark racketeering case against ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty Monday for his role in covering up a multimillion dollar corruption scandal involving Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Angelo D'Alessandro, 54, of Shelby Township faces up to three years in federal prison. He is the fourth person to plead guilty in a widening criminal case involving the airport, bribes and corrupt contracts that has led to charges against five people.

D’Alessandro admitted concealing a scheme to defraud the airport and failing to tell federal investigators.

“Today’s guilty plea underscores our efforts to hold accountable not just the perpetrator of crime, but anyone who works to conceal it,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement Monday. “We are committed to protecting our citizens from the fraud and abuse of greedy contractors who are motivated to line their pockets rather than to improve our public infrastructure.”

The airport scandal emerged in April when contractor Gary Tenaglia, 64, of Rochester was charged with wire fraud conspiracy. Tenaglia was accused of fraudulently charging the Wayne County Airport Authority approximately $1.5 million for applying a deicing substance that was never used.

Tenaglia, who struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors, claimed to have purchased the deicing substance from AQD Construction Co. of Roseville, according to an internal airport audit obtained by The News.

AQD Construction is based at the same commercial building on Groesbeck Highway as a related firm, Lanzo Construction.

D'Alessandro is the company's resident agent, according to state business filings.

His other company, Lanzo Construction, factored into testimony during the Kilpatrick racketeering trial in 2012. The testimony focused on a $19 million sewer contract involving Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson, a company called Lakeshore Engineering Services and Lanzo Construction.

One of Ferguson's companies was expected to do just over one-third of the work, with Lakeshore handling 38 percent and Lanzo Construction, 19 percent. Lanzo was not headquartered in Detroit and had few minority employees.

After Lakeshore won the job, Angelo D'Alessandro, who owned another company, DCG, decided he wanted DCG to perform much of the work that Ferguson's company was slated to do. Ultimately, D'Alessandro decided to pay Ferguson $900,000 to quit the job and do no work, according to trial testimony.

Lanzo Construction was identified as Marrocco's largest campaign contributor in October 2016. In all, $24,500 was contributed from people connected to Lanzo, including Angelo D'Alessandro, according to Deadline Detroit.

D'Alessandro was charged in August, nine months after The Detroit News obtained a sealed wiretap affidavit that showed FBI agents had tapped at least a dozen phones during a probe that led investigators to start orbiting the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects and Marrocco.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco talks about four, 300-horsepower vertical turbine solid handling pumps that drop 55 feet below the motor floor into a wet well. Sewage is pumped up and gravity flows to a NE pump station in Detroit. XXXXMacomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco gives The Detroit News a tour of the Clintondale Pump Station in Harrison Twp., Wednesday afternoon, June 15, 2016. Marrocco is running against U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who is retiring from the U.S. Congress. (Todd McInturf, The Detroit News)2016.

FBI agents are investigating whether Macomb County vendors were extorted while pursuing public contracts with Marrocco's office.

Marrocco's right-hand man, Dino Bucci, was indicted in November and accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars while extorting engineering contractors who wanted public contracts.

Marrocco has not been charged with wrongdoing during the ongoing investigation. 

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Twitter: @robertsnellnews