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Feds secure 8th guilty plea in Macomb scandal

Robert Snell

Detroit – An engineering contractor accused of bribing a Washington Township public official struck a plea deal Tuesday and will help the government prosecute others involved in a widespread corruption scandal.

Paulin Modi is the eighth person to plead guilty in a scandal involving numerous Macomb County communities, trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services, Detroit towing magnate Gasper Fiore and the Macomb County Public Works office.

So far, 15 people have been charged amid the ongoing investigation.

The plea came four months after Modi, 48, of Troy was charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official. Modi allegedly paid the unnamed official a $1,000 cash bribe in May 2014 to secure a public contract, according to prosecutors.

Modi 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.

Modi will be sentenced Jan. 16 by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland and could face up to 30 months in federal prison.

Until April, Modi was a partner with Detroit-based engineering firm Giffels Webster, a company that has numerous municipal contracts in Metro Detroit.

Modi and Giffels Webster served as the township’s engineer for about seven years. The firm handled the bulk of engineering work for Washington Township in northwest Macomb County.

The FBI and federal prosecutors learned of the alleged criminal contact after receiving tips from Washington Township Supervisor Dan O’Leary. Prosecutors called him “a valuable asset to the investigation since its inception.”

The plea Tuesday came one week after another former Giffels Webster employee, senior project manager James Pistilli, 68, of Holly, was charged with bribery conspiracy, a 10-year felony.

Pistilli was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected.

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