Bribe-paying Macomb contractor bound for prison

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Paulin Modi

An engineering contractor who bribed a Washington Township public official was sentenced to one year and a day in prison Thursday.

Paulin Modi, 50, of Troy, was convicted of paying a series of bribes totaling $5,000 to the late Steven Hohensee, Washington Township’s superintendent of public works, who secretly was cooperating with the FBI. The bribes were designed to maintain a township engineering contract for Modi’s engineering firm, Detroit-based Giffels Webster.

Modi is the latest person sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland in a corruption scandal that has led to federal charges against 22 contractors and public officials and produced 17 convictions, including Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds. Reynolds was sentenced Wednesday to 17 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors wanted Modi to spend 14 months in prison.

"Although the conduct of public officials who take bribes and betray their citizens is serious criminal activity, such crimes would not be possible were it not for bribe payers like Modi," Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Gardey and Michael Bullotta wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Modi helped to corrupt communities out of a motive of greed, undermining good government and the integrity of the public contracting process."

Modi accepted responsibility, cooperated with the government and testified during Reynolds' trial and is remorseful, his lawyer Walter Piszczatowski said.

"His conduct and the resultant legal proceedings resulted in a hard lesson learned, and a mistake that will not be replicated," his lawyer wrote in a court filing. 

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