Friday, September 30, 2011

18 Individuals Face Drug Charges

An indictment charging eighteen defendants with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana has been unsealed, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced yesterday. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robert Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Chief Ralph Godbee, Detroit Police Department.

This indictment charges eighteen defendants with conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana in Detroit over the past eleven years. All eighteen are alleged to be members of a national drug trafficking organization.

The eighteen defendants named in this indictment are:

  • Shaun Devon Askew, a/k/a “Dot,” 28, of Detroit;
  • Terrell Raynard Clark, 23, of Detroit
  • Anthony Bernarde Edwards, a/k/a “Ant” and “Mick,” 40, of Southfield;
  • Erika Royce Flowers, a/k/a “E,” 29, of Detroit;
  • Thebera Shlanda Flowers, 47, of Detroit;
  • Geoffrey Lamar Hightower, a/k/a “Chief,” 40, of Wayne;
  • Carl Lee Jones, a/k/a “Pookie,” 30, of Farmington Hills;
  • John Lighting, III, a/k/a “J-Rock,” 29, of Detroit;
  • Malcolm Martines Long, a/k/a “Black,” 38, of Macomb Township;
  • Terrence Lynn Pritchett, a/k/a “Cowboy” and “C-Bo,” 40, of Detroit;
  • Johnny Richards, Jr., 43, of Roseville;
  • Isaac Johnson Sheppard, 30, of Detroit;
  • Daryl Keith Sewell, a/k/a “D-Nice,” 43, of Arizona;
  • Kendrah Smartt, a/k/a “Old Girl,” 46, of Colorado;
  • Dennis Cornelius Tate, a/k/a “Deezy” and “Terrence,” 36, of Belleville;
  • Jaami Townsend, a/k/a “Jam,” 33, of Plymouth;
  • Clarence Williamson, Jr., a/k/a “Dawg” and “Junior,” 48, of Southfield; and
  • Denise Darrine Williamson, a/k/a “Neecey,” 42, of Detroit;.

Mr. Sheppard is in custody in Detroit, while Ms. Smartt is in custody in Nebraska.

“We need to find new ways to address gun, drug, and violent crimes,” Ms. McQuade said. “Our law enforcement agencies are working together to use our resources in strategic ways.”

“The FBI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners, particularly through our Violent Gang Task Force, and working with prosecutors to aggressively investigate drug dealing organizations,” Mr. Arena explained.

Mr. Corso added, “The arrests that stemmed from this investigation are strong examples of the positive results that can be achieved when state, local and federal law enforcement agencies work together to fight drug trafficking. The DEA will continue to work with our partners to make our community safer by focusing on dismantling violent drug organizations.”

The most serious charge in the indictment, conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of powder cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, carries a penalty of 10 years to life imprisonment.

An indictment is a charging document and not evidence of guilt. Each and every defendant is presumed to be innocent. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Portelli.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Traffic Detours for the Southfield Freeway

Construction Continues on the Southfield Freeway
From Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. until Monday, September 26 at 5 a.m., the Southfield Freeway (M-39) will be closed in both directions between Ford Rd. (M-153) and Grand River Ave. (M-5). In addition, the eastbound and westbound I-96 ramps to northbound Southfield Fwy., and the Grand River entrance ramp to southbound Southfield Fwy. will be closed.

The Michigan Department of Transportation suggests a northbound detour by taking westbound Ford Rd. to northbound Telegraph Rd (US-24) to eastbound I-696 to Southfield Rd. 

The suggested southbound detour is to take southbound M-10 to westbound Eight Mile Rd. (M-102) to southbound Telegraph Rd. to eastbound Ford Rd. to the Southfield Freeway.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Former Detroit Public Schools Official Sentenced for Accepting Bribes

A former Detroit Public Schools official who accepted kickbacks for authorizing payments to a vendor who submitted $3.32 million in fraudulent invoices was sentenced yesterday to 60 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution to the Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced. She was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of  the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Stephen A. Hill, age 60 of Detroit and a former executive director of the DPS Risk Management Department, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman. Judge Borman also ordered that Mr. Hill pay DPS $3.32 million in restitution.

Sherry Washington, who was convicted as charged of program fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy after a two-week jury trial in June.

Mr. Hill testified that he awarded the DPS wellness plan to a firm with no competitive bidding and with no written contract. He also testified that Sherry Washington proposed the cash kickback to him and later delivered bags of cash to him in private locations, including the parking structure of the Detroit Athletic Club.

Following an investigation by the IRS and FBI, an indictment charging nine people was returned. One defendant, DPS employee Christina Polk-Osumah, died of natural causes after indictment. All of the other seven defendants in the case were convicted as well; six pleaded guilty and local art gallery owner Sherry Washington was convicted after a jury trial and will be sentenced October 20, 2011. Co-defendant Gwendolyn Washington will be sentenced on October 5, 2011.

Other defendants sentenced in this case include:

  • Marilyn White received a sentence of 21 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $3.322 million;
  • Valerie Polk received a sentence of 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $347,746;
  • Thomas Taylor received a sentence of one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $440,928;
  • Sally Jo Bond received a sentence of 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $3.322 million; and
  • Duane Polk received a sentence of 27 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $788,674.
Ms. McQuade said in a prepared statement, “We are committed to rooting out public corruption wherever it occurs, but a breach of trust in our schools is particularly offensive. These defendants stole funds intended to benefit school children.”

Mr. Hill pleaded guilty on May 2 to one count of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit program fraud. The offenses arose from Hill’s involvement in a scheme to honor fraudulent million dollar invoices submitted by a group called Associates for Learning for implementation of a wellness plan for DPS employees. He accepted a 5% percent cash kickback for approving wire transfer payments upon receipt of the fraudulent invoices.