FBI arrests third Macomb official in corruption case

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

An ongoing public corruption case in Macomb County broadened Thursday with the arrest of the departing Chesterfield Township supervisor, the third elected official to be snared in the federal probe.

Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock leaves the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit on bond after being charged with bribery, November 17, 2016.

Michael Lovelock is accused of taking multiple bribes totaling more than $30,000 from 2010-16 from a company that had a “significant contract with Chesterfield township,” according to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

McQuade’s office does not name the company; however, trash-hauling company Rizzo Environmental Services is at the center of a public corruption probe.

Founder Chuck Rizzo Jr. stepped down from his namesake company in October. The Rizzo company is in the middle of a major overhaul with its new owner, Toronto-based GFL, planning to change the name and paint all of its red trucks green.

In exchange for the cash, Lovelock allegedly used his position as supervisor to secure an extension of the company’s contract with the township; put past-due accounts of the company on the township’s tax roll so it could get paid by residents; obtained money from Macomb County for the company to work on flood damage in August 2014; and promised to not give the company bad references to other towns.

Lovelock also accepted two bribe payments totaling $4,000 from an undercover FBI agent and an individual cooperating in the investigation, according to McQuade. Those payment exchanges were video recorded.

Lovelock was released Thursday from federal custody on a $10,000 unsecured bond ordered by U.S. Magistrate Anthony Patti.

A court-appointed attorney from the Federal Defender Office represented Lovelock, who appeared in court wearing a purple collared shirt and dark pants with his wrists and feet shackled.

Lovelock’s next court appearance was set for 1 p.m. Dec. 8.

“Thank you, your honor,” Lovelock said after the judge ordered his release.

Outside court, Lovelock declined to answer reporters’ questions about the charges, saying “no comment.” He ran across Shelby and got in a red car stopped at a traffic light at the corner of Fort.

Lovelock’s case follows the arrest of two other local officials who are facing similar charges.

Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds is charged with taking $50,000 to $70,000 in cash bribes from Rizzo in exchange for supporting the firm’s $3.5 million annual contract bid.

In Macomb Township, Trustee Clifford Freitas is accused of taking $7,500 from Rizzo.

Lovelock, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election last week to Republican Daniel J. Acciavatti. Lovelock has been Chesterfield Township supervisor since 2008.

Kelli C. Hodges, special agent for the FBI, said in a court affidavit that Lovelock had been accepting bribes from a principal of “Company A.”

The FBI wiretapped that principal’s phone and he was ultimately confronted with the evidence. He confessed to the crime, agreed to cooperate with the investigation and is identified as Cooperating Human Source One in the affidavit.

In September 2015, FBI physical surveillance captured a meeting between Lovelock and the source in a parking lot in Troy.

During the meeting, the source handed Lovelock $2,500 in cash in exchange for getting “Company A” paid by Macomb County for flood cleanup work it did in Chesterfield, according to the affidavit.

Lovelock had previously sent a coded text message to the source requesting the money, according to the affidavit.

“I hope for lots of carrots maybe 60 bundles just kidding rabbits hungry,” the text said.

“Carrots” is code for money, according to the complaint.

The source previously agreed to pay Lovelock 10 percent of the $25,000 “Company A” got from Macomb County for the flood work, according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Lovelock faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Public officials who seek to take advantage of their official positions for their own personal gain by selling official acts should expect to be arrested and prosecuted,” McQuade said in a statement. “The citizens of our district deserve elected representatives who make decisions based on the best interests of the community rather than their own corrupt financial interests.”


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Twitter: @NicquelTerry