Federal government could seize Rizzo’s mansion for $ 2.5 million in public official bribery scandal

Chuck Rizzo Jr. has not been charged with a felony, but he could lose a $ 2.5 million home.

Federal investigators are eyeing Chuck Rizzo Jr.’s $ 2.5 million mansion for possible confiscation in connection with the municipal corruption scandal surrounding his former company, Rizzo Environmental Services.

Rizzo, who resigned in October as CEO and chairman of the company that bears his last name, purchased the 7,700-square-foot home in Bloomfield Township in 2013. It spans 2.1 acres, backs onto a golf course and includes nine bathrooms and five fireplaces, according to tax records.

Rizzo has never been charged with a felony, although federal prosecutors have charged five local government officials with accepting bribes related to contracts to transport waste with Rizzo’s company.

In February, government lawyers filed a notice that the house could be subject to forfeiture, a move that would complicate the sale of Rizzo.

According to the notice filed with the Oakland County Deeds Register, the government is aware of “certain facts, conditions and events prohibited” by federal law “which may terminate an estate or an interest in property. immovable”.

The notice, signed by Assistant US Attorney Adrianna Dydell, lists legal citations from laws against fraud, wire fraud, corruption and money laundering.

“This is really a signal for the title insurance company,” said Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at Wayne State University. “He can look for a buyer, but no buyer will take him. They won’t insure the title.”

Last year, sources told Free Press that Rizzo was cooperating with the government’s investigation and it is not clear whether he will be charged.

“There is no requirement that he be charged,” Henning said. “Typically, the bribe payer is charged, but it’s not mandatory, especially if the government needs their cooperation to get elected officials. Elected officials are the real targets because they are invested with the trust of the public.

Former United States Attorney Barbara McQuade told the Free Press in March that the investigation into Rizzo was continuing, but she declined to know if he could possibly be charged.

The Kwame Kilpatrick Detroit bribery case has shown that vendors accused of bribery can help their own cases by cooperating in efforts to nab government officials. Longtime Cobo Center salesman Karl Kado admitted to bribing city officials to protect his lucrative contracts, but ultimately pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

The government admitted that Kado “profited greatly from his corrupt contracts”, but nonetheless asked for leniency, noting that without Kado’s cooperation “the government would not be able to hold certain officials accountable for their illegal conduct”.

Kado eventually avoided jail time, served three years of probation, and paid $ 146,874 in restitution.

It is not yet known if Rizzo negotiated a similar deal, although such a deal would have to be disclosed in court if he wants to testify against one of the elected officials.

The efforts of the free press to reach Rizzo through intermediaries were unsuccessful. A journalist was kicked out of the house on Friday.

Guilty pleas

Two elected officials from New Haven Village, in northern Macomb County, pleaded guilty in February to the scandal. Former administrator Christopher Craigmiles and former administrator Brett Harris have pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe after accepting money from an undercover FBI agent they believed to work for Rizzo.

Craigmiles – a former police officer – admitted to receiving a $ 5,000 bribe from an undercover agent in exchange for his vote on what he believed to be a future Rizzo trash contract. Under his plea agreement, he faces 18 to 24 months in federal prison, although he is cooperating and prosecutors have agreed to seek a potentially lighter sentence if his cooperation is substantial.

Harris also pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe, but faces a harsher sentence because he admitted to taking more money than Craigmiles. Harris said he received four bribes totaling more than $ 11,000 from the same undercover agent posing as a Rizzo official. Under the terms of his plea deal, Harris faces 33 to 41 months in prison, though he does cooperate and could get a more lenient sentence.

Three other officials, former Clinton Township Administrator Dean Reynolds, former Macomb Township Administrator Clifford Freitas and former Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock are all awaiting trial for receiving bribes from Rizzo.

Neighboring residences

Rizzo continues to call the mansion his home. Last year he got approval from the Township of Bloomfield to build a closed main entrance, a stone wall to conceal the playing field and a bluestone staircase at the back leading to an open-air entertainment area. air with a fireplace.

The plans also call for a recessed equipment well, 56 feet long and 14 feet wide, to contain pool equipment, gas and electricity meters, a back-up generator, a transformer, 10 condensing units. and a rainwater sump.

Construction crews continue to work on the house and there is a Rizzo brand dumpster in the driveway.

In October, Rizzo sold his business to Toronto-based Green for Life for an undisclosed amount. The sale came just weeks before the first bribery accusations were announced and Green for Life officials insist they know nothing about the scheme.

That same month, Rizzo paid $ 2.4 million for the mansion next to his. This home is 6,900 square feet with seven bathrooms.

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or [email protected] On Twitter @jwisely.

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