Coke bust snags Macomb judicial candidate

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Paul Zyburski

A candidate running for judge in Macomb County has a date with a federal judge Tuesday after being charged in a cocaine trafficking case.

Prosecutors unsealed the criminal case Thursday against Paul Zyburski, 57, after wiretap and other evidence showed he was using a phone to facilitate drug trafficking, authorities allege.

Zyburski, a veteran criminal-defense lawyer in Mount Clemens, was charged in the midst of an election campaign for a judicial opening in 39th District Court, which covers Roseville and Fraser.

“Right now, these are only allegations. We are going to conduct a thorough investigation,” Zyburski’s defense lawyer, Joseph Arnone, said Friday. “He is going to maintain his innocence and the presumption of innocence that he is entitled to.”

Zyburski became embroiled in the drug case last fall after the FBI's Macomb County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force started tapping the phone of accused drug dealer and A&A Dynasty party bus operator Antonio Lewis, 53, of St. Clair Shores. 

Lewis was identified by investigators as distributing cocaine across Macomb County, typically packs of 1.2 grams that he would sell on or near the party bus, according to federal court records. He was indicted on drug conspiracy and other charges in May alongside a third man, Demetrius Alderson.

Investigators learned Lewis was using a particular phone number to coordinate drug deals and obtained a wiretap in November 2017 to monitor his phone calls, according to court records.

Lewis was in frequent contact with one phone number that a subpoena showed belonged to Zyburski, according to court records.

Zyburski could not be reached for comment Friday. He was campaigning for the six-year judicial post as recently as Sunday, according to his Facebook page.

Paul Zyburski is running for 39th District Judge in Macomb County.

Zyburski is running against four others, including Macomb County Commissioner Kathy Tocco.

On Nov. 27, investigators monitored text messages between Zyburski and Lewis.

Zyburski texted Lewis, writing: "Yo...I'm getting ready to go to Columbia can you get me in the mood."

"K," Lewis replied. "How many."

"2," Zyburski texted.

The two exchanged more messages in the ensuing months and arranged drug deals at Macomb County restaurants and a tennis court, according to court records.

Paul Zyburski posted this photo on Facebook of him playing tennis in Fraser.

On Jan. 20, investigators monitored more text messages and believe Zyburski ordered cocaine for himself and a female.

"...can you stop by I got some 18 year old broad coming here so you know," Zyburski texted Lewis, according to court records.

"1?" Lewis replied.

"Actually 2 sounds better if you got it," Zyburski texted.

"K omw," Lewis texted, using the acronym for "on my way."

In all, the FBI alleges Zyburski and Lewis used phones more than 30 times to engage in drug distribution. If convicted, Zyburski could be sentenced to up to four years in federal prison.

He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday.

“One of the unfortunate things about being a criminal defense attorney, especially if you’re successful, is it’s not uncommon for people to make accusations against you that are just not true,” Arnone said.

Zyburski will not drop his judicial campaign, his lawyer said.

"He maintains his innocence and will proudly continue with his campaign," Arnone wrote in an email. "He has beaten the false allegations brought against him when his ballot was challenged and we look forward to resolving this in the same manner."

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Twitter: @robertsnellnews