Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Former pension official pleads guilty

George Stanton, the former chief of staff to a member of the Detroit City Council, pleaded guilty today to accepting $15,000 in bribes from Roy Dixon, an investment sponsor before the two Detroit pension funds, in return for pushing Dixon’s investment proposal before the Police and Fire Retirement System, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert Foley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

During a hearing this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, Stanton, 49, of Detroit, admitted that during the latter part of 2007, he accepted multiple payments in cash amounting to $15,000 in total from Dixon as a reward for supporting Dixon’s proposed investment. Stanton served as the chief of staff for a member of the Detroit City Council. In 2006 and 2007, that city council member was selected by the city council to serve as a trustee of the Police and Fire Retirement System. Stanton’s duties as chief of staff included supporting and advising that city council member relating to duties as a trustee. In 2007, Dixon was acting as a representative of PR Investment Group, Ltd., a company that was seeking a $15 million investment from the Detroit pension funds in order to purchase speculative real estate in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Dixon gave $15,000 in cash to Stanton in an effort to secure the pension fund’s support for Dixon’s investment proposal.

In a prepared statement, McQuade added, “Detroit’s bankruptcy and the risk to retirees’ pension benefits demonstrate the importance of rooting out corruption from Detroit’s two pension funds. The pension funds should be managed to benefit retirees, not to line the pockets of public officials.”

Robert Foley added, "Public officials who accept bribes and choose to serve themselves rather than citizens by committing illegal acts, will face severe consequences. The FBI-led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force remains committed to ensuring citizens have honest government."

Based on his guilty plea and felony conviction for accepting bribes, Stanton is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

A criminal indictment is pending against Dixon, against Jeffrey Beasley, the former Detroit city treasurer and trustee to the two Detroit pension funds; against Paul Stewart, a former vice president of a Detroit Police union and a former trustee of the Police and Fire Retirement; and against Ronald Zajac, the former general counsel of the two Detroit pension funds. As part of the indictment, Dixon is charged with paying bribes to Stanton, Beasley, Stewart, and others in return for their support of the Turks and Caicos investment. Furthermore, Dixon is charged with embezzling more than $3 million in Detroit pension fund money from a separate private equity investment by both Detroit retirement systems in a used car dealer who specialized in customers with poor credit.

In addition, a number of other defendants have been convicted in relation to the pension fund investigation, including:

  • Monica Conyers, a former trustee of the General Retirement System and former member of the Detroit City Council, for conspiracy to take bribes, including bribes relating to a proposed multi-million-dollar pension fund investment in Wireless Resources and a $10,000 extortion payment relating to the Police and Fire Retirement System’s investment in the Romulus Deep Injection Waste Well;
  • Samuel L. Riddle, Conyers’ chief of staff, for conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion relating to the Wireless Resources and Romulus Deep Injection Well investments;
  • DeDan Milton, a former trustee of Detroit’s two pension funds, for conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion;
  • Andrew Park, an owner of Asian Village, who paid a bribe to obtain a $2.75 million loan from Detroit’s General Retirement System;
  • Derrick Miller, former chief information officer of Detroit, who accepted the bribe from Park and who took a kickback of more than $500,000 on a $44 million investment by Detroit’s two pension funds; and
  • Chauncey Mayfield, for conspiracy to commit bribery with Treasurer Beasley by supplying Beasley and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick with tens of thousands of dollars in hotel, entertainment, and private jet flights, as well as a job for Beasley’s paramour and significant contributions to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, all in return for maintaining Mayfield’s position as an investment adviser controlling over $200 million in pension fund money.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Cares and David A. Gardey.

No comments: