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FBI records hint at Marrocco corruption probe in Macomb County

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — While Macomb County's public works commissioner, Anthony Marrocco repeatedly received $5,000 bribes from an engineering firm owner who is facing a federal prison sentence next week, according to FBI files obtained by The Detroit News on Friday.

Heavily redacted summaries of FBI interviews with people embroiled in a years-long crackdown on public corruption in Macomb County shed light on the ongoing investigation involving Marrocco, 71. The documents also hint at a roadmap of potential crimes involving cash payoffs and campaign contributions.

Anthony Marrocco

The summaries filed in federal court Friday include an FBI interview with former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci, 60, who was Marrocco's right-hand-man and who is cooperating with federal investigators.

Federal prosecutors on Friday filed the summaries ahead of the Thursday sentencing of Fazullah Khan, 58, of Troy, who was convicted in July of bribing public officials, including the late Steven Hohensee, Washington Township’s superintendent of public works. Prosecutors want U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland to send Khan to prison for up to 15 1/2 years.

"Khan told Hohensee about bribing other public officials — e.g., he said that he gave Anthony Morrocco (Macomb County’s former Commissioner of the Department Public Works) 'like five grand a year' because Morrocco 'gives [him] a lot of work,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Cares wrote in the court filing Friday.

Marrocco, who lost re-election in 2016, has not been charged with wrongdoing but the investigation is ongoing. He has hired prominent Detroit defense attorney Steve Fishman, who declined comment Friday.

Prosecutors revealed last summer that Bucci was cooperating with the investigation targeting Marrocco. Bucci is awaiting trial after being indicted on charges including bribery, extortion, fraud, theft and money laundering.

Dino Bucci, center, and his attorney, Stephen Rabaut, left, leave federal court in November 2017 after Bucci was arraigned in a pay-to-play corruption scandal.

The federal filings Friday provided insight into Bucci's cooperation.

In March 2018, Bucci was interviewed by prosecutors and talked about his interactions with Khan, according to an FBI summary of the interview.

Bucci recounted conversations with Khan involving a Macomb Township development, according to the summary. Bucci was recruited to help quickly obtain certificates of occupancy for the development.

"Khan told Bucci that he wanted to take care of Bucci," according to the FBI summary. "Bucci told Khan to take care of the Marrocco campaign."

After the certificates were issued, Khan gave Bucci $10,000 cash, according to the FBI summary.

In the Bucci criminal case, he is accused of participating in a bribery conspiracy with other public officials and contractors.

Bucci told contractors to give him thousands of dollars in cash, checks and gift cards in exchange for work and contracts with Macomb County and Macomb Township, according to the indictment. Bucci also told contractors to give him hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks and cash for political fundraising events, including golf outings and dinners, according to the indictment.

Khan, meanwhile, stood trial in a long-running public corruption scandal in Macomb County after rejecting a plea deal that called for up to 2 1/2 years in prison. 

The long-running Macomb County public corruption investigation has led to the federal convictions of 22 contractors and public officials, including former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds, trash mogul Chuck Rizzo and towing titan Gasper Fiore. 

Khan's trial last summer featured testimony about secret payoffs to public officials, some of whom were cooperating with federal agents.

Khan was accused of paying $11,000 in bribes to Washington Township public officials and fought the criminal case by alleging he was entrapped by the government.

What Khan didn't know was township Supervisor Dan O’Leary and Hohensee were cooperating with federal agents.

The FBI investigation dates to late 2013. That's when O'Leary told FBI agents he was concerned about possible corruption involving Hohensee and a developer.

FBI agents approached the developer, who agreed to cooperate and record his interactions with Hohensee, according to court records. FBI agents later recorded the Washington Township public official receiving two bribes from the developer.

Prosecutors say Hohensee also received $1,000 in gambling money and went on a chartered fishing trip paid for by Khan.

Agents confronted Hohensee with the recordings and he started cooperating with investigators and recording meetings with Khan.

In an October 2014 meeting recorded by the FBI, Hohensee and Khan discussed a township engineering contract, according to the government. Hohensee told Khan to "help" the Washington Township supervisor, who was "looking for around ten grand," according to the government.

Khan said he would take care of O'Leary, the supervisor, according to a trial brief filed by prosecutors.

"It's a done deal," Khan said, according to the brief.

The next month, in November 2014, O'Leary recorded a meeting with Khan and requested a $10,000 cash bribe, according to the government.

"Here’s what we’re going to do," Khan said in one recorded conversation, according to the government. "I’ll come to your office. This is how — trust me I’m an expert at this okay? I’ll come to you."

A week later, Khan arrived at O'Leary's office. An FBI video camera recorded the meeting.

In the video, Khan is shown dropping a thick envelope on O'Leary's desk. Prosecutors say the envelope contained $10,000.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews