Hearing for 2 in stalled Wayne Co. jail case postponed

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A pretrial hearing for two Wayne County officials facing charges for their alleged roles in the county’s long-stalled jail project will be delayed until next month.

Carla Sledge, a former county chief financial officer, and Steve Collins, assistant corporation counsel for the county, are the defendants in the case.

They have been charged with willful neglect of duty as a public official, a one-year misdemeanor.

The hearing before Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans was postponed Wednesday until Nov. 21 because Collins has appealed his case to the state Supreme Court, county prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege Sledge and Collins misled the building authority and county commission about the true costs of the jail project.

Construction of the $220 million Wayne County jail at Gratiot and Madison in downtown Detroit began in 2011 under then-County Executive Robert Ficano.

However, work on the 2,000-bed project was halted in June 2013 after $100 million in overruns and allegations of $29 million in no-bid contracts and accusations that officials and contractors misled the county.

County officials estimate it costs $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.

The county is still proceeding with plans to complete the project.

Last month, the county hired a company to evaluate the condition of the unfinished jail. It has also issued a request for qualifications from potential contractors with the goal of seeking a design-build request for proposals no later than January.

In April, the state’s appeals court ruled Collins could be charged with willful neglect of duty after a lower court judge dismissed the charges in September 2015.

But the appeals court agreed with the lower court’s decision to dismiss a felony charge of misconduct in the office against Collins.

In addition, it affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny Sledge’s request to have the charges against her dismissed.

Prosecutors also initially accused Anthony Parlovecchio, a consultant, of being involved in the jail project’s overruns. Misconduct in office charges against were dismissed in October 2015.