DETROIT (AP) - The head of the FBI office in Detroit says agents are busy investigating corruption in Wayne County government. Andrew Arena says agents were looking at the county before an economic development official was given a $200,000 severance for resigning to take a more lucrative job at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. After much criticism, she lost the airport post and agreed to repay the severance.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint mayor Dayne Walling is not disputing new FBI data that shows his city had the highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2010.  Flint set a record for homicides last year.   The city’s arson rate also soared topping the FBI’s list in that category too.

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A package containing a bomb was held for three weeks at the McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit. From the Detroit News:

A security officer at the McNamara Federal Building stored a suspicious package that turned out to contain a bomb for three weeks before alerting authorities, said a spokesman for a union that represents guards at the site, who called the incident "a total embarrassment."

"He apparently set it aside," said David Wright, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 918, which represents the Federal Protective Service (FPS) employees, who guard the McNamara and other federal buildings around the country.

"It should have been left in place and he should have called in a canine detection unit to see if they could make a determination about it," he said Tuesday.

The package was eventually placed behind two dumpsters behind the McNamara Building on Michigan Avenue downtown around 10 a.m. Friday. The Detroit Police Department's bomb squad collected the device from there and moved it to Belle Isle, where it was detonated.

An FBI official said yesterday that the device had gone to FBI headquarters in Virginia for additional testing.

Update: March 16th, 11:18 a.m.

Michigan State police officials have not provided details on why they searched  buildings associated with the Romulus Police Department. State Police Inspector Garth Burnside told the Detroit News that the search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation with the Wayne County prosecutor and the FBI.

The Detroit News reports that the following locations were searched:

  • the Romulus police headquarters
  • the home of Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre
  • St. Andre's wife's tanning salon
  • a building housing Police Department records
  • and a residence Burnside declined to identify.

The Detroit News spoke with a lawyer who sued the Police Chief and the City  of Romulus "over the disappearance of $300,000 worth of auto parts seized by Romulus police." The lawyer's client said the auto parts were in a trailer seized by police. According to the News, the Romulus police contended there were no auto parts in the trailer and the case was dismissed in January 2010.

March 15th, 11:36 a.m.

The Michigan State Police are saying little about a search warrant served today at the Romulus Police Department.  State Police Inspector Garth Burnside would only confirm that state troopers, along with FBI agents and the Wayne County Prosecutors Office served the warrant at 7 a.m. this morning.

Burnside says the search of the Romulus Police Department is part of an ongoing investigation.

He declined to say what is the focus of the investigation.

Neighbors and business owners in a growing Grand Rapids neighborhood are standing up against a so-called urban terrorist. Since Christmas Day a number of businesses and a new condo development have been vandalized and struck by arson in East Hills. Dozens of residents have received letters threatening violence if they don’t move out. The letters say old neighbors have been priced out as new developments came in.

Kathryn Caliendo has been volunteering for the East Hill Council of Neighbors for 20 years.

“I don’t like the buzzwords anarchy, or gentrification and I don’t like the word terrorist. This is not political discourse. This is criminal activity. And that’s what I want it to be treated as.”

Federal prosecutors have charged 21 people with Medicare fraud in metro Detroit.

The indictments include doctors, physical therapists and clinic managers. They’re charged with billing Medicare for $23 million in services that either weren’t needed, or were never performed.

Andrew Arena heads the FBI’s Detroit office. He says one of the most striking examples is a physician who did $8 million worth of home visits:

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office released this statement regarding the RICO indictments of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Victor Mercado, former director of the city Water and Sewerage Department, and 3 others:

We are disappointed by continued revelations of the mistakes of the past. Yet, we will not be deterred from our agenda. We will continue to work hard to restructure city government to a level of accountability, transparency and performance for our citizens. We have the utmost confidence in U.S Attorney Barbara McQuade and her team, and will cooperate and not interfere with their investigation.

While these indictments will make it more difficult as we seek a new director for the water department, and continue to make the tough but necessary decisions throughout the city, we will maintain our commitment to the highest ethical standards and those who uphold them for the benefit of our city and region.

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Kwame Kilpatrick and the others associated in the case are facing charges under the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). You can check the FBI's glossary of terms to see what activities can be charged under RICO. The law was enacted by Congress 40 years ago to prosecute the leaders of organized crime. Before RICO it was difficult to prosecute organized crime leaders who rarely got involved in day-to-day dirty deeds. 

Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press has written up a nice little summary of RICO and how prosecutors have since used it to fight corruption in organized labor, drug gangs, and government officials. He writes:

Prosecutors must prove that there was a “criminal enterprise” at work; that the person being prosecuted conspired with others to commit a pattern of crimes, from violent acts to financial crimes such as bribery, money laundering, wire fraud or extortion.

Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Kilpatrick and those newly indicted today colluded in a pattern of crimes.

First page of the unsealed indictment
Department of Justice

Four Detroit-area residents have been indicted by the federal government for Medicare fraud.

The Department of Justice says Medicare fraud schemes were operated out of Patient Choice Home Healthcare and All American Home Care.