Judge hopeful busted in cocaine caper bows out

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Paul Zyburski

Detroit — A candidate for judge in Macomb County who is charged in a cocaine trafficking case is backing out of the race, his lawyer said Monday.

Paul Zyburski, 57, has stopped campaigning, though his name will still appear on the August primary ballot in the race for 39th District Court, which covers Roseville and Fraser, defense lawyer Joseph Arnone said.

The decision comes one week after the veteran Mount Clemens criminal-defense lawyer was released on $10,000 unsecured bond on a charge of using a phone to facilitate drug trafficking. If convicted, Zyburski faces up to four years in federal prison.

“He wants to clean up certain other issues in his life,” Arnone told The News. “As much as he wanted this for noble and virtuous reasons, first and foremost he wants to protect his family from this. In no way is this a concession of the charge against him."

The criminal case has negatively impacted Zyburski's supporters, Arnone said.

"There are a lot of higher-up political supporters who have not backed away from him despite all of this," Arnone said. "He does not want to bring any harm their way. He went into this feeling that he could be empathetic with people who came before him and treat every single person that was charged as an individual."

Zyburski was running against four others for the six-year court position, including Macomb County Commissioner Kathy Tocco.

"My client technically cannot remove his name from the ballot," Arnone said. "However, he will not be campaigning further." 

Primary ballots featuring Zyburski's name already have been printed, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office.

"We’re not aware of a mechanism to remove him from the ballot," Woodhams wrote in an email.

If Zyburski wins the primary, he "probably" will withdraw from the November election, his lawyer said.

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 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."


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