Macomb corruption figure strikes plea deal

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

A Bloomfield Hills man accused of plotting to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services struck a plea deal Tuesday for his role in the Macomb County public corruption scandal.

Derrick Hicks, 47, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces 21-27 months in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and payment of more than $500,000 restitution. Hicks is the sixth person to plead guilty in a high-profile corruption scandal that so far has led to charges against 12 people.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland will sentence Hicks on Nov. 14 at the federal courthouse in Port Huron.

The plea could give prosecutors an important witness against at least two key figures charged in the scandal: former Rizzo CEO Chuck Rizzo and former Rizzo employee Quintin Ramanauskas.

Hicks was owner and CEO of Southfield-based ASAP Services Inc., which provided garbage carts to tens of thousands of homes serviced by Rizzo’s trash company.

Between 2013 and October 2016, Hicks admitted committing wire fraud by embezzling money from Rizzo Environmental Services.

At Chuck Rizzo’s direction, Hicks inflated invoices to Rizzo Environmental Services that exaggerated the number of garbage carts delivered by ASAP Services, according to court records. The embezzlement totaled more than $500,000.

“During the course of and as a part of the conspiracy, (Chuck Rizzo) concealed the existence of the fraud scheme from the chief financial officer of (Rizzo Environmental Services) and from the private equity firm” that owned a majority stake in the trash hauling company, according to the plea deal.

Hicks kept some of the cash and split the rest every week with Chuck Rizzo and Ramanauskas, according to the plea deal.

In October 2015, Hicks delivered $50,000 cash to Chuck Rizzo, according to the plea deal. The next month, he gave $3,000 to Ramanauskas.

Ramanauskas, 53, of Shelby Township was charged in May with conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.

The plea came seven weeks weeks after Hicks was indicted.

The government alleges Rizzo, his father Charles Rizzo, Detroit towing mogul Gasper Fiore, Hicks and others plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services using a fake legal settlement agreement, fraudulent consulting deals, kickbacks, shell companies and stealing money to help pay for Chuck Rizzo’s mansion in Bloomfield Township.

Some of the stolen money bankrolled bribes for public officials to maintain and secure additional municipal garbage contracts, prosecutors say.

Chuck Rizzo called the embezzled cash OPM, short for “other people’s money,” according to prosecutors.

Chuck Rizzo, Charles Rizzo and Fiore also were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews