FBI arrests retired Detroit cop amid corruption crackdown
Detroit — FBI agents Friday arrested a former Detroit Police detective in connection with a bribery, extortion and fraud investigation targeting Detroit City Hall, law enforcement and municipal towing operations.
The arrest of 44-year-old Romulus resident Mike Pacteles — a detective who was assigned to an FBI task force before retiring last year after a 21-year career — marks the latest expansion of "Operation Northern Hook," a broader FBI investigation of public corruption within Detroit city government. The investigation and prosecution has led to criminal charges against four Detroit police personnel and former Detroit Councilman André Spivey, who has pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy.
Pacteles was charged with bribery and accused of receiving $7,724 in things of value from an unidentified towing industry figure and undercover FBI agent, including a used car and $3,200 cash, according to the complaint. In return, Pacteles provided sensitive police information, including vehicle registration data from the restricted database Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network, or LEIN, prosecutors alleged.
He works as an officer for Hamtramck Police Department, where he was arrested and placed on administrative leave. Police Chief Ann Moise did not respond to a message seeking comment.
“The vast majority of police officers are hardworking dedicated public servants. Our office is committed to prosecuting those officers who cast a stain on these officers and who betray the public trust by accepting bribes," acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement.
Pacteles is the fifth person charged with a crime during the ongoing corruption investigation and he was released on $10,000 unsecured bond following a brief appearance in federal court. The bribery charge is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
His court-appointed lawyer Jonathan Epstein could not be reached for comment immediately Friday.
He reacted to the ongoing corruption investigation on social media in October when two former Detroit Police colleagues were arrested and charged with taking bribes from a towing industry figure and undercover FBI agent.
"Wow," he wrote.
Pacteles was a high-profile, oft-quoted member of the department and occasionally participated in feel-good community events.
In December 2017, Pacteles and other officers spent hours handing out gift baskets to families at Burton International Academy on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Detroit.
The Detroit News quoted Pacteles saying people "were emotional and it's also a great feeling for us to do something nice for the community."
The investigation also is looking into whether City Council member Janeé Ayers, Council member Scott Benson or others personally benefited from campaign contributions or donations to social welfare organizations. FBI agents raided the homes and offices of Ayers, Benson and their respective chiefs of staff in August.
Those charged so far include:
• Retired Detroit Police Officer Alonzo Jones, 55, of Detroit. Jones oversaw abandoned vehicle auctions and has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from an unnamed tower for nearly two years.
• Detroit Police Lt. John F. Kennedy, 56, of Rochester Hills, and Officer Daniel Vickers, 54, of Livonia. They are accused of receiving cash, free cars and other bribes while steering work to a towing company.
The alleged crime involving Pacteles dates to 2019 when a towing industry figure, referred to in a court filing as “Tower A,” contacted Detroit Police and asked for an officer to retrieve several vehicles, including some that had been stolen, according to the complaint.
The retrieval process includes Detroit police listing the stolen vehicles as being seized and notifying the owner. If no one claims the vehicle, it is auctioned and the tower deducts towing and storage fees from the sale price.
In July 2019, Pacteles arrived at the tower’s property to talk about stolen vehicles. While there, Pacteles said his daughter needed a car, according to the FBI.
“Tower A” offered to find one.
Pacteles said he would “owe (Tower A) forever,’” according to the criminal filing.
Three days later, the tower told Pacteles he had found a 2008 Chevrolet Impala.
“Awesome,” Pacteles texted. “Thanks.”
They arranged a meeting in late September for Pacteles to see the car at the tower’s lot, according to the complaint.
The tower texted that he might need the detective to “look something up for me,” prosecutors allege.
“Ok cool,” Pacteles wrote.
The next month, the tower gave Pacteles the Impala and title paperwork, according to the government.
The tower vowed to say Pacteles paid $3,900 “if anybody ever asked.”
The tower also gave Pacteles $800 cash to pay for insurance and to ensure the detective would answer the phone if the tower needed anything, according to the criminal filing.
“Yeah…of course,” Pacteles said.
In December 2019, Pacteles asked the tower for $1,500 or $1,600, according to the filing.
The tower said he would give $2,000 because Pacteles had provided factors and “scratched my back, I’m going to scratch yours,” the government alleged.
The detective received another $2,500 that month, money that the tower said he was providing in exchange for Pacteles searching license plates, according to the filing.
Pacteles responded he was willing to help, the FBI said.
Detroit Police Chief James White said he was “disappointed” with the allegations but supported the investigation.
“I would like to emphasize, that the alleged actions of one former officers does not represent the vast majority of the exceptional men and women of the Detroit Police Department who go above and beyond the call of duty for our community each and every day,” White said in a statement.