Charges dismissed against 2 in stalled Wayne Co. jail case

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Charges against two Wayne County officials connected to the once long-stalled jail project in 2013 were dismissed Wednesday, officials say. 

Carla Sledge, a former county chief financial officer, and Steve Collins, assistant corporation counsel for the county, were dismissed by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans.

Carla Sledge, a former county chief financial officer, listens during an earlier hearing in the case.

Both were previously charged with misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty as a public official, a one-year misdemeanor. Prosecutors accused Sledge and Collins of misleading the building authority and county commission about the true costs of the jail project.

In March 2015, both defendants filed motions to dismiss the indictments against them. Evans noted in her opinion Wednesday that Collins was not a public official and dismissed charges saying, "Collins was a public employee and that the willful neglect of duty counts did not apply to him."

Sledge was found to be a public officer that willfully neglected her duty to honestly and fully inform a legislative body the Wayne County Commission and the Wayne County Building Authority with accurate financial information regarding the costs over runs of the jail, Evans wrote. 

"The failure of this project did not involve corrupt intent by defendant Sledge, but was a culmination of individuals with a good intent...," Evans wrote. "It was, at the most, negligence per se by all interested parties."

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

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 estimated it cost $1.3 million a month to have the half-finished jail sitting unused in Greektown.

The project relaunched in June when the Wayne County Commission signed off on the $533 million proposal from businessman Dan Gilbert to build a criminal justice complex that would replace the "inhumane" jail being used. It will be located on East Warren near Interstate 75. In exchange, Gilbert's companies will redevelop the jail site.
Twitter: @SarahRahal_