Ex-official 13th charged in Macomb corruption probe

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A former Washington Township public works superintendent who allegedly accepted $10,000 in bribes has become the 13th person charged in the Macomb County public corruption case, federal authorities announced Friday.

In a charging document, Steven Hohensee is accused of accepting cash bribes between March and April 2014 from an unnamed source working under the FBI.

The 61-year-old now faces one count of bribery in connection with his official position at the township, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch said in a statement. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

Hohensee’s charges are the latest in the corruption scandal involving Rizzo Environmental Services, the Sterling Heights trash-hauling firm accused of bribing public officials as it expanded a business empire that reached more than 50 Metro Detroit communities.

On Thursday, Shelby Township resident Quintin Ramanauskas, a trusted employee and associate of the company’s CEO Chuck Rizzo, became the seventh person to strike a plea deal in the case.

Rizzo and his father both were indicted in May. The government alleges the pair and others plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services using a fake legal settlement agreement, fraudulent consulting deals, kickbacks and shell companies.

Also this year, former Giffels Webster engineering partner Paulin Modi was charged 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, federal prosecutors reported.

The Troy man 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.

The FBI and federal prosecutors have said they learned of the alleged criminal contact after Washington Township Supervisor Dan O’Leary tipped them off.