Feds charge fourth person in Detroit corruption investigation of towing industry

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged a fourth person in the ongoing bribery investigation probing corruption within Detroit City Hall and the police department.

Retired Officer Alonzo Jones, 55, of Detroit was charged with bribery and accused of receiving approximately $3,200 in bribes from July 2019 to May 2021, according to a criminal filing.

Jones, who oversaw the Detroit Police Vehicle Auction from 2009 until he retired in May, was charged in a criminal information, which indicates he is expected to plead guilty to a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"Until we get into court and get arraigned, I think I would say no comment at this time," his lawyer, Todd Russell Perkins, told The Detroit News.

Jones was charged one week after two other Detroit Police personnel, including a former Internal Affairs lieutenant, were charged and accused of pocketing cash, receiving free cars and other bribes while steering work to a towing company and offering to leak inside information.

The officers are charged in connection with “Operation Northern Hook," a broader FBI investigation of bribery, extortion and fraud within City Hall and municipal towing operations that in September yielded its first conviction: Detroit City Councilman André Spivey.

Spivey faces up to five years in federal prison after admitting he received almost $36,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent and informant in exchange for supporting a towing issue pending in front of City Council.

The broader corruption investigation also is looking into whether council members Janeé Ayers, Scott Benson or others personally benefited from campaign contributions or donations to social welfare organizations.

FBI agents raided City Hall in late August and searched the homes of Ayers, Benson and their chiefs of staff, Ricardo Silva and Carol Banks. None have been charged with wrongdoing during the ongoing investigation.

In the Jones case, prosecutors say he received the money from an unidentified towing industry figure and undercover federal agent in exchange for providing falsified bills of sale filed with the Michigan Secretary of State. The bills were for seized and abandoned vehicles sold at auction and transfer ownership of the vehicles to the towing industry figure and federal agent.