Macomb corruption figure Bucci set to plead guilty

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci is scheduled to plead guilty to public corruption charges Thursday, a development that would bring federal prosecutors one step closer to his boss, former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco.

Marrocco, who has not been charged, remains a focus of a widespread public corruption investigation that has led to the federal convictions of 22 contractors and public officials. That includes trash mogul Chuck Rizzo, towing titan Gasper Fiore and former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds, who is serving a 17-year federal sentence, one of the longest in the history of Metro Detroit.

Dino Bucci, a Macomb Township trustee, center, and his attorney, Stephen Rabaut, left, leave federal court in Detroit in 2017.

Bucci, 60, was Marrocco's right-hand-man and was indicted three years ago on eighteen counts of conspiracy, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, mail fraud and money laundering involving public contracts. He is scheduled to plead guilty at 1 p.m. Thursday in front of U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland in Port Huron. 

Bucci's lawyer, Stephen Rabaut, did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Bucci is portrayed as a bungling crook who received hundreds of thousands of dollars while extorting engineering contractors who wanted public contracts, forced county employees to drive his child to school and plow snow at his home.

FBI agents had at least four wiretaps, including one on Bucci’s phone and one on his disposable “burner” phone — a cheap prepaid phone typically used to avoid being tracked by investigators. In Bucci’s case, agents learned about the phone and tapped it before the phone could be discarded, according to a discovery notice filed by prosecutors that provided insight into evidence gathered during the investigation.

Prosecutors last year revealed he was cooperating with an investigation focused Marrocco, a powerful public official who oversaw the county's public works department.

Anthony Marrocco

While Macomb County's public works commissioner, Marrocco repeatedly received $5,000 bribes from an engineering firm owner, according to FBI interview reports filed in federal court in January.

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

FBI records hint at Marrocco corruption probe in Macomb County

Federal prosecutors filed the summaries ahead of the sentencing of engineering firm owner Fazullah Khan, 59, of Troy. Khan was convicted in July of bribing public officials, including the late Steven Hohensee, Washington Township’s superintendent of public works, and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

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

Sealed FBI wiretap records obtained by The Detroit News in late 2017 show FBI agents tapped at least a dozen phones during a corruption probe that led investigators to start orbiting Marrocco and the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects.

A chronology of events outlined in sealed wiretap records shows that by late summer 2014, investigators had started tapping three phones so they could listen to conversations involving Marrocco, a manager employed by a Macomb Public Works contractor and a county employee who worked in the public works office.

Twitter: @robertsnellnews