Court: Lawyer can be charged in Wayne Co. jail case

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The state’s appeals court this week ruled an attorney may be charged with willful neglect of duty for his involvement in cost overruns in Wayne County’s stalled jail project.

The charge of willful neglect of duty as a public official is a one-year misdemeanor.

However, it agreed with a lower court’s decision last year to dismiss a felony charge against Steven Collins, assistant Wayne County corporation counsel. He was charged with misconduct in office, a felony.

A judge dismissed both misconduct and willful neglect charges against Collins in September 2015.

Prosecutors alleged that Collins, another county official, Carla Sledge, and a consultant misled the building authority and county commission about the true costs of the jail project. The consultant, Anthony Parlovecchio, was a former aide to the county’s former development czar, Turkia Mullin.

On Tuesday, the appeals court filed its ruling, which said Wayne County prosecutors should be allowed to file additional details that could support the neglect charge against Collins.

It also affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny Sledge’s request to have the charges against her dismissed.

“We affirm the trial court’s order denying Sledge’s motion to dismiss and ordering the prosecution to file a bill of particulars,” the court ruling said. “We also affirm the trial court’s order granting Collins’ motion to dismiss the misconduct in office charges, but reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the charges of willful neglect of duty against Collins, and remand for further proceedings.”

Jason Williams, chief of appeals for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office, said in a statement that authorities are pleased with the court’s ruling in the case against Sledge.

Williams also said the prosecutor’s office “will be reviewing the decision in the Collins case to determine if it will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Misconduct in office charges against Parlovecchio were dismissed in October 2015.

Parolvecchio quit his job as Mullin’s aide, 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.

Construction on the $220 million Wayne County jail project began in 2011, under Ficano. The 2,000-bed project near the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice was halted in June 2013 after $100 million in overruns and charges of corruption.

County officials estimate it costs about $1.3 million a month to have the half-finished jail sitting unused in Greektown. The proposed development site is bounded by Gratiot, Chrysler Service Drive, Macomb and Beaubien.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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