Court file to be opened in jail probe
Detroit – — A judge has agreed to unseal the court file in a case of alleged corruption tied to construction of a new Wayne County jail, a media attorney said Friday.
But Wayne County Judge Vonda Evans upheld a gag order barring all parties from talking to reporters, said attorney Herschel Fink.
Evans said she was concerned about public discussion of the case because it emanated from grand jury proceedings, which are conducted in secret.
Evans held a hearing Friday in response to a challenge from the Detroit Free Press. Even the prosecutor says the court file shouldn’t be sealed.
Fink says he’ll ask the appeals court to overturn the gag order.
Evans had sealed the court file because she was worried it might contain transcripts from the grand jury proceedings.
After a prosecutor said the file wouldn’t contain the transcripts, the judge decided to unseal it. A spokesman for the judge said the file would be available Tuesday.
In September, a one-man grand jury indicted three current and former Wayne County officials as part of an investigation into millions of dollars in cost overruns in the stalled jail project. Construction stopped months ago because the project at Gratiot and Madison was wildly over budget — $91 million past the $300 million estimate.
Charged in the case are retired chief financial officer Carla Sledge, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel Steven Collins and Anthony Parlovecchio, a former economic development deputy who was fired as owner representative of the jail project.
Sledge and Collins face felony counts of misconduct in office, accused of giving false or misleading information about the cost of a new jail, plus misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty by a public official.
Parlovecchio is charged with one count of willful neglect of duty by a public official.
The felonies are punishable by five years in prison and $10,000 fines. The misdemeanors carry punishments of up to one year in jail and $1,000 fines.
The county is still debating how to proceed. Rock Ventures, the real estate arm of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, has offered the county $50 million for the jail site. Commissioners had considered refitting a closed state prison on Mound but recently voted to remove that site from consideration.