Detroit – Lawyer accused of teaming up with garbage titan Chuck Rizzo to bribe Macomb County politician tries to prevent jurors in his upcoming corruption trial from hearing the names of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other disgraced politicians.
Mentioning the names of Kilpatrick and Detroit City Council members Monica Conyers and Alonzo Bates may unfairly harm lawyer Jay Schwartz, his lawyer has argued in a court case. He wants to prevent FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman from mentioning corrupt Detroit politicians during Schwartz’s trial next month.
Schwartz, 55, of Northville is accused of bribing Dean Reynolds, a Clinton Township administrator, with free money and legal services, and helping cover up the bribes. The corruption plot unfolded from 2014 to 2016, when Rizzo was trying to secure and maintain an $ 18 million waste haulage contract in Clinton Township, according to the government.
The demand comes from a marginal figure in a broader crackdown on public corruption in Macomb County that has led to the convictions of more than 20 contractors and officials, and reflects Kilpatrick’s toxic legacy. He was sentenced in 2013 to 28 years in federal prison – tied for the longest federal public corruption sentence in US history – for turning Detroit City Hall into a criminal enterprise. Former President Donald Trump commuted the sentence in January.
Beeckman noted his success in sending Kilpatrick, Conyers and Bates to jail while testifying before a federal grand jury that charged Schwartz with bribery and bribery in July 2019. If convicted, Schwartz risks up to 10 years in federal prison.
“Not only do such references from Agent Beeckman threaten to mislead and confuse the jury, they point to the probable conscience of the news jury in Detroit over the past ten years to suggest that, like Kilpatrick, Conyers and Bates in disgrace, Mr. Schwartz is also worthy of conviction, ”wrote his attorney, Gerald Gleeson.
There is precedent for banning Kilpatrick’s name in federal corruption cases in Detroit.
In May 2012, U.S. District Judge David Lawson barred prosecutors from mentioning Kilpatrick during the $ 12 million bid-rigging trial of entrepreneur Bobby Ferguson.
Lawson said he was concerned the mere mention of Kilpatrick’s name could be detrimental to Ferguson, the former mayor’s close friend. Instead, Kilpatrick was identified as a “city official” before the jury.
The Ferguson case ended in an overturned trial, but he was convicted alongside Kilpatrick in the town hall racketeering trial the following year and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Ferguson was granted compassionate release in April.
Schwartz, meanwhile, was Rizzo’s business attorney as the garbage mogul built a sprawling empire in metro Detroit.
The lawyer was captured on an FBI wiretap targeting Rizzo and several politicians in the region, including former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco, who is also awaiting trial in an extortion case.
The wiretap recorded Reynolds and his friend Angelo Selva talking in July 2015. The duo discussed the provision of free legal services by Rizzo and Schwartz in return for help with a garbage contract in the Clinton Township, according to the indictment.
Spit, shakedowns marked Rizzo’s epic rise and fall
A month later, FBI agents were eavesdropping on Rizzo’s phone.
During an appeal, Schwartz told the garbage mogul that Rizzo had to provide $ 5,000 to pay for expenses related to Reynolds’ divorce, according to the indictment. Schwartz suggested the payment be disguised as a loan to a third party, prosecutors said.
In September 2015, Schwartz sent a blank promissory note to Reynolds that was used to cover up Rizzo’s bribes, according to the government.
Two months later, Reynolds reportedly received a $ 3,000 cash bribe from Rizzo, who was sentenced to 66 months in prison.
Reynolds, meanwhile, is serving a 17-year prison sentence.
His testimony at trial focused on Schwartz and his Farmington Hills law firm. Schwartz and her partner Carmen Moyer represented Reynolds during her divorce and provided up to $ 56,000 in free legal aid, Beeckman said.
Schwartz’s request follows a series of failed attempts to blunt the government’s cause.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland refused to remove Rizzo’s wiretapping. Schwartz had argued that investigators violated court orders by wiretapping.