Disgraced Macomb leaders plead guilty in Rizzo scandal

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Two former Macomb County elected leaders struck plea deals Thursday for taking bribes in a public corruption scandal involving trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services.

The deals for former Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock and ex-Macomb Township Trustee Clifford Freitas came one day after former trash hauling CEO Chuck Rizzo was indicted on multiple bribery and fraud charges in connection with a scandal that has led to 12 people being charged with federal crimes.

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

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland could sentence Lovelock to almost four years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit federal program fraud. Lovelock, 57, is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 in federal court in Port Huron.

Macomb Twp. Trustee Clifford Freitas exits federal court in Detroit after being charged in a bribery case.

That’s the same time Freitas, 44, will be sentenced. He could receive almost three years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to demanding and accepting bribes.

Lovelock was indicted in December and accused of taking multiple bribes in exchange for supporting a municipal contract for Rizzo’s garbage company.

Authorities say that between 2010-16, Lovelock accepted $30,000.

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

Lovelock, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election in November to Republican Daniel J. Acciavatti, who was sworn in Nov. 20. Lovelock had served as Chesterfield Township supervisor since 2008.

Freitas is accused of pocketing $7,500 in bribes from Rizzo between July 2015 and January 2016.

Freitas is charged with bribery conspiracy involving federal funds, a five-year felony.

Freitas was arrested in October by FBI agents on a criminal complaint charging him with demanding and taking bribes in exchange for official help on a municipal contract. He’s accused of accepting $7,500 from Rizzo in return for helping the trash hauler secure a contract with the township.

After the firm was awarded the contract in fall 2015, Freitas demanded another $35,000 from the company representative for his additional help as a public official relating to the contract, according to the complaint.

Freitas was the Republican incumbent but lost an August primary race. He was elected to the Macomb Township Board of Trustees in 2012 and simultaneously worked as a project manager for Rizzo — a job he held from June 2013 to October 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Those charged include:

Boulevard and Trumbull Towing owner Gasper Fiore, 56, of Grosse Pointe Shores. In early 2016, Fiore allegedly gave Reynolds bribes totaling $7,000, prosecutors allege.

Former Giffels Webster engineering partner Paulin Modi was charged Tuesday with bribery conspiracy and accused of paying an unnamed Washington Township public official a $1,000 cash bribe in May 2014 to secure a municipal contract, according to federal prosecutors.

Modi, 48, of Troy also allegedly helped facilitate a $2,000 cash bribe from another contractor to the same public official between June and October 2014, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Shelby Township resident Quintin Ramanauskas, a former commercial manager with trash-hauling firm Rizzo Environmental Services.

Ramanauskas, 53, left a $3,000 bribe for Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds in November 2015 and a bribe totaling several thousand dollars for Lovelock in fall 2015, according to court records.

Ramanauskas is scheduled to plead guilty June 30 in federal court.

Former New Haven trustees Christopher Craigmiles and Brett Harris also were accused of taking bribes from an FBI agent posing as a Rizzo employee. Both have reached plea deals and await sentencing dates in federal court.

Reynolds, meanwhile, was indicted in November and accused of taking $50,000 to $70,000 in cash from Rizzo in exchange for supporting the firm’s $3.5 million annual contract bid. He also was charged with taking $17,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent.

Angelo Selva of Macomb Township is accused of concealing a bribery conspiracy involving Reynolds, a Rizzo Environmental Services executive and the company’s lawyer in September 2015. Selva is to plead guilty June 5 in federal court.

Two weeks ago, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said a federal grand jury also is investigating her office and has subpoenaed testimony from about a dozen public employees.

FBI agents are asking questions about Miller’s predecessor, Anthony Marrocco; his former deputy, Dino Bucci, and millions of dollars in payments to a county contractor, Miller said.


(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews