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Banners flown over ballpark take swipe at Mayor Duggan

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News
A banner created by Robert Carmack, businessman and antagonist of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, circles Comerica Park Thursday morning.

Detroit — On Opening Day at Comerica Park a Detroit businessman locked in a legal battle with the city used the opportunity to broadcast his claims against Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Robert Carmack, who is facing multiple felony counts on allegations he stole a million-dollar property from the city, shelled out $4,500 to hire three pilots to fly banners over the Tigers' home field on Woodward for six hours proclaiming "Been forced to pay a bribe to Duggan? Call 1-800-carmack," another one questions the mayor's fidelity  and a third says, "Any1 have sex w/Mike Duggan 4 a raise? Call 1-800-carmack."

The 800-number routes callers to a property management company in San Diego.

An airplane banner taking a swipe at Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, created by businessman and antagonist Robert Carmack, flies over Comerica Park Thursday.

"I got some banners flying around about my favorite person, Mike Duggan," Carmack told The Detroit News. "I ain't got no problem saying I did it.

"I had this man attack me for the last four years, you know. I ain't backing down from him or anybody," Carmack said. "He's done what he's done to me."

In response, Alexis Wiley, chief of staff to Duggan, said Carmack's actions weren't surprising.

"This is the kind of behavior we've come to expect from Bob Carmack," she said. 

The public display isn't Carmack's first time targeting the mayor. In November, Carmack aired footage of the mayor's comings and goings on a billboard truck outside City Hall.

Carmack, at the time, said he'd hired a private investigator to trail Duggan over a series of months and has questioned whether Duggan resides in the city. 

The footage showed the mayor visiting a condominium in Novi and separately showed a woman arriving there on other occasions.

The incident prompted the mayor and his wife to defend their marriage and also led Duggan to convene a news conference to announce to the media that he'd asked the Michigan State Police to review whether Carmack's actions — allegedly in retaliation for the city's refusal to drop property lawsuits against him — amounted to extortion.

Carmack of Woodhaven is in the midst of a preliminary hearing in 36th District Court in Detroit on charges of false pretenses with intent to defraud $100,000 or more, and three counts of uttering and publishing a document affecting real property tied to a decade-old land deal. 

The false pretenses charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, according to state statute. Uttering and publishing carries a penalty of up to 14 years.

The case centers around the purchase of property on Melville on Detroit's southwest side. The city maintains that Carmack, who sold the property for $1 million, did not legally own the site.

In November, Carmack convened an elaborate news conference at his auto repair shop on Michigan Avenue, telling reporters that he intended to share new information that he'd claimed would embarrass the mayor.

Ultimately, he declined to do so and vowed instead it would come at a later date. 

On Thursday, Carmack told The News "I have more to say" but said he's waiting to speak further on the topic until his legal case is resolved.

"I don't believe I'm guilty of anything," he said.