2 from New Haven plead guilty in bribery case
A current and a former elected official in Macomb County pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy charges in federal court on Monday and will be sentenced in June.
U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland accepted guilty pleas from New Haven Trustee Christopher Craigmiles and former Trustee Brett Harris.
Both men were charged last year by federal investigators as part of a widespread public corruption investigation into municipal contracts in Macomb County.
Craigmiles, a retired Detroit transit police officer, was arrested Jan. 12 and charged with one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
According to the criminal complaint, Craigmiles met with an FBI agent and Harris on Aug. 3 in the garage at Harris’ home.
Federal prosecutors allege it was there Craigmiles accepted $5,000 in FBI funds from the undercover agent in exchange for his vote on a contract for “Company A” with New Haven, according to the complaint.
In court Monday, his attorney, David Nacht, asked Craigmiles about the conspiracy, specifically whether another trustee introduced him to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a representative for a Rizzo Environmental Services garbage contract.
Craigmiles said: “Yes.”
It was the first time anyone associated with the case has publicly stated the contract involved in the bribes was Rizzo.
Federal officials have not identified the company, but officials with the Toronto-based GFL Environmental — which acquired Rizzo on Oct. 1 — have said they are continuing cooperate with the investigation.
Sentencing guidelines call for Craigmiles to be sentenced anywhere from 18 to 24 months in prison. His sentencing is set for June 8.
Harris allegedly met with the undercover FBI agent on March 31, April 27 and May 18, and accepted cash bribes totaling $9,000 after being introduced by Dean Reynolds, a former Clinton Township trustee. Harris accepted another $2,000 from the agent on Aug. 19, court records show.
According to the complaint, Harris told the agent that Craigmiles would also agree to bribery.
Harris faces between 33 and 41 month in prison, based on sentencing guidelines, and has agreed to cooperate with the government in its investigation and testify if necessary.
Harris faces a higher sentence on June 8 due to past drunk driving convictions. His attorney, Steven F. Fishman, said at sentencing he would argue for a reduction in the guidelines.
Craigmiles won re-election last November to a four-year term but has tendered his resignation, which New Haven officials will act on Feb. 14. Harris lost his seat.
Cleland set a June 19 trial date for Reynolds in his case. He faces eight counts of bribery involving two companies. If convicted, Reynolds faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.