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Corrupt leader wants a break because wife needs kidney

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit – A corrupt politician wants a prison break because his wife needs a kidney.

That’s one reason former New Haven Trustee Christopher Craigmiles wants probation, instead of prison, for his role in a public corruption case involving several politicians who admitted pocketing bribes in exchange for approving municipal garbage contracts for Rizzo Environmental Services.

Sentencing guidelines call for Craigmiles, a retired Detroit transit police officer, to be sentenced to between 18 and 24 months in prison starting June 8. U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland is not bound by the guidelines.

In a sentencing memo filed Wednesday, defense attorney David Nacht shifted some blame to another former New Haven official, Trustee Brett Harris, who also awaits sentencing in the case.

Craigmiles, 43, was “quite unsophisticated” and pocketed $5,000 after meeting with an undercover FBI agent at Harris’ request, his lawyer wrote.

“(Craigmiles) has been the recipient of significant publicity and has felt tremendous shame because of this conviction,” Nacht wrote.

A prison sentence is unnecessary to protect the public from Craigmiles or deter others, his lawyer wrote.

There is a compelling reason to spare Craigmiles, a married father with children age 16 and 12, from going to prison, his lawyer wrote.

His wife is on a kidney transplant list.

“At any time, she could be hospitalized for a matter of weeks to receive a new kidney,” Nacht wrote. “This is simply an unusual and compelling case in which the needs of Mr. Craigmiles’ family should be considered.

“Mr. Craigmiles will not be a different person in any positive way by going to prison,” the lawyer added. “The shame from the conviction has already taken some toll on him. Prison will have the effect of harming his children.”

Craigmiles was arrested Jan. 12 and charged with one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Craigmiles and Harris met with an undercover FBI agent Aug. 3 in the garage at Harris’ home. There, federal prosecutors allege 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.

“Company A” is Rizzo Environmental Services, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

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.

The two former New Haven officials struck plea deals with the government in February.

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 Aug. 8 due to past drunken driving convictions.

Craigmiles won re-election in November to a four-year term but resigned amid the criminal investigation. 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.

Reynolds is the last remaining holdout among seven people charged in the corruption case.

rsnell@detnews.com

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews