Judge hopeful charged in cocaine caper freed

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Paul Zyburski

Detroit — A candidate running for judge in Macomb County who is charged in a cocaine trafficking case was released on $10,000 unsecured bond Tuesday, six weeks before the primary election.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Grand ordered Paul Zyburski, 57, to seek medical or psychiatric treatment, surrender his passport and not leave the continental United States while awaiting trial.

Zyburski nervously bounced the heel of his black Velcro-strapped dress shoe while awaiting his case to be called and said little beyond telling Grand he understood his rights and penalties for violating bond conditions.

At the end of the brief hearing, Zyburski tried to approach Assistant U.S. Attorney John O'Brien but was intercepted by his lawyer, Joseph Arnone, and ushered out of the courtroom.

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.

Arnone said the judicial campaign will continue despite the criminal case.

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

If convicted of using a phone to facilitate drug trafficking, Zyburski faces up to four years in federal prison.

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.

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.

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.

Zyburski has had legal problems before.

In 2007, Zyburski was placed on probation for two years by the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board after being convicted of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired.

In 1993, his law license was suspended for one year for commingling settlement funds in his personal account and failing to pay his clients for almost two months. Zyburski also failed to appear for a client’s hearing and lacked a valid excuse, according to the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.


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Twitter: @robertsnellnews