State police open internal probe in wake of wiretaps

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan State Police has opened an internal investigation in the wake of allegations made in a briefly unsealed federal court filing.

The probe comes after the filing revealed the extensive use of wiretaps by federal agents conducting a public corruption investigation involving Detroit towing magnate Gasper Fiore.

The federal records show Fiore allegedly was involved in questionable activity involving individuals on the Detroit Police Department, Detroit City Council, Highland Park Police Department and the Michigan State Police.

Telephone conversations investigators obtained through the wiretaps revealed the “considerable influence” that Fiore had in Detroit, according to FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman. Fiore pleaded guilty Dec. 12 in federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery.

“This past 30 days also captured items of value Fiore is providing to police officers,” Beeckman wrote in June 2016, according to court records. “Agents (were watching) the O’Reilly Auto Parts store regarding the repairs Fiore was doing on a state trooper’s personal vehicle.”

Lt. Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the state police, said the agency opened an internal investigation into “the alleged noncriminal statements in the federal affidavit.”

“Since the affidavit is not ours, we want to look into the allegations made by the investigator,” Shaw said.

Fiore is the former owner of Trumbull Towing. Federal investigators said he built his business by bribing at least one elected official – Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds.

Fiore and Reynolds are charged with multiple counts of bribery-related offenses in connection with a towing contract.

Fiore admitted at a plea hearing that he conspired to pay bribes to Reynolds in order to obtain a municipal towing contract with the township. Fiore admitted to giving Reynolds cash bribes of $4,000 and $3,000 in March and May of 2016 in order to buy Reynolds’ vote to select Fiore’s company to receive the Clinton Township towing contract.

The bribery conspiracy charge that Fiore pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing has been set for May 1. Prosecutors will recommend Fiore spend up to 21 months in prison, according to the plea deal.

Former deputy police chief Celia Washington also pleaded guilty — though she suggested she wasn’t actually guilty — Tuesday to accepting a $3,000 bribe from Fiore.