Charge dismissed against Wayne Co. jail consultant
Detroit — A judge on Monday dismissed a criminal charge against a jail consultant accused of misleading elected officials about cost overruns at the long-stalled county jail project.
Anthony Parlovecchio faced willful neglect of duty as a public official, a one-year misdemeanor. On Monday, 36th District Court Judge Kevin Robbins dismissed the charge after his attorney, Ben Gonek, said he argued his client was not a public official, only an independent contractor.
“It should have never been charged,” Gonek said. “He was the owner’s (representative) for less than a year, and while he was there, the jail was ahead of schedule and under budget.”
A spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in an email that the office will likely appeal.
Parlovecchio is the second Wayne County official who had charges dismissed in connection with the controversial project.
In September, a judge dismissed criminal charges against Wayne County attorney Steve Collins, who was charged with misconduct of office felonies after an investigation by a one-man grand jury last year.
Along with the county’s former chief financial officer, Carla Sledge, Collins was charged under an obscure law that allows prosecutors to charge public officials with violating common law — those established before colonists came to the United States.
The judge also ruled that the charge didn’t apply because Collins was a county employee rather than public official.
Charges are still pending against Sledge, who faces two felony charges of misconduct of office and two misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty. The felonies are punishable by five years in prison and $10,000 fines, while the misdemeanors carry punishments of one year in jail and $1,000 fines.
Prosecutors alleged that Collins and Sledge misled the building authority and county commission about the true costs of the project.
Parlovecchio was a former aide to the county’s development czar, Turkia Mullin. He quit the county, then returned within days as a private owner representative for the jail. He was fired in 2011 in the wake of the scandal over a $200,000 severance Mullin received from then-County Executive Robert Ficano.
The project remains half-finished; work stopped on it in June 2013 when cost estimates soared to $391 million from $300 million.