Marrocco financier charged in Detroit airport scandal

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Detroit — A businessman who bankrolled former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco’s failed re-election campaign and who factored into the landmark racketeering case against ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged Monday in a multimillion dollar corruption case involving Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Angelo D'Alessandro, 54, of Shelby Township, is the fourth person charged in a widening criminal case involving the airport, bribes and corrupt contracts, and raises questions about whether D'Alessandro is cooperating with a separate corruption investigation targeting Marrocco and the public works office.

Anthony Marrocco

D’Alessandro was charged with misprision of a felony — a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. He is accused of knowing about wire fraud and failing to tell federal investigators. He was charged in a criminal information, which indicates a guilty plea is expected.

He was charged nine months after The Detroit News obtained a sealed wiretap affidavit that showed FBI agents had tapped at least a dozen phones during a probe that led investigators to start orbiting the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects and Marrocco.

"He reached a nice deal," said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. "He's certainly cooperating. The question is how much information does he have, and how much can he provide to prosecutors. Could he help out in the Marrocco case? It's possible."

D'Alessandro did not immediately respond to a message left at his office Monday. His lawyer is not identified in federal court records.

FBI agents are investigating whether Macomb County vendors were extorted while pursuing public contracts.

Marrocco's right-hand man, Dino Bucci, was indicted in November and accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars while extorting engineering contractors who wanted public contracts.

Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci, right, and his attorney Stephen Rabaut in November.

FBI agents secretly videotaped Bucci, who also serves on the Macomb Township board of trustees, receiving a bribe and wiretapped the burner cellphone that was supposed to help him dodge law enforcement surveillance, according to court records.

Agents had at least four wiretaps, including one on Bucci’s phone and one on his disposable “burner” phone — a cheap prepaid phone typically used by drug dealers, and quickly replaced, to avoid being tracked by investigators. In Bucci’s case, agents learned about the phone and tapped it, according to a court filing.

A chronology outlined in sealed wiretap records shows that by late summer 2014, investigators had started tapping three phones so they could listen to conversations involving Marrocco, a manager employed by a Macomb Public Works contractor and a county employee who worked in the public works office.

Marrocco has not been charged with a crime.

Gary Tenaglia

The airport scandal, meanwhile, emerged in April when contractor Gary Tenaglia, 64, of Rochester was charged with wire fraud conspiracy. Tenaglia was accused of fraudulently charging the Wayne County Airport Authority approximately $1.5 million for applying a deicing substance that was never applied.

Tenaglia, who struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors last month, claimed to have purchased the deicing substance from AQD Construction Co. of Roseville, according to an internal airport audit obtained by The News.

D'Alessandro is the company's resident agent, according to state business filings.

AQD Construction is based at the same commercial building on Groesbeck Highway as a related firm, Lanzo Construction.

Lanzo Construction factored into testimony during the Kilpatrick racketeering trial in 2012. The testimony focused on a $19 million sewer contract involving Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson, a company called Lakeshore Engineering Services and Lanzo Construction.

Lanzo Construction's office in Roseville.

One of Ferguson's companies was expected to do just over one-third of the work, with Lakeshore handling 38 percent and Lanzo Construction, 19 percent. Lanzo was not headquartered in Detroit and had few minority employees.

After Lakeshore won the job, Angelo D'Alessandro, who owned another company, DCG, decided he wanted DCG to perform much of the work that Ferguson's company was slated to do. Ultimately, D'Alessandro decided to pay Ferguson $900,000 to quit the job and do no work, according to trial testimony.

Lanzo Construction was identified as Marrocco's largest campaign contributor in October 2016. In all, $24,500 was contributed from people connected to Lanzo, including Angelo D'Alessandro, according to Deadline Detroit.

Marrocco lost the re-election campaign to former U.S. Rep. Candice Miller.

The misprision charge filed against D'Alessandro is one of the lowest-level criminal charges wielded by prosecutors.

"That's one indication of his potential value to prosecutors," Henning said. "It often is an indication that the person can provide valuable information down the road, and in other cases." 

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Twitter: @robertsnellnews