Supervisor of Royal Oak Township Indicted for Bribery
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 30, 2011|
The Supervisor of Royal Oak Township, William Morgan, was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of bribery, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, violate the federal Clean Air Act, and commit bribery, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade announced today. The previously sealed indictment, was unsealed today after the defendant’s arrest.
U.S. Attorney McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit, Michigan office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Breck Nowlin, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, Housing and Urban Development (HUD-OIG), and Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Enforcement (EPA-CE).
The charges involve Morgan’s alleged criminal conduct in awarding a contract and distributing federal funds that were intended to improve blighted areas by removing dilapidated buildings. The program was run by the HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a program Morgan supervised for the Township.
The indictment alleges that Morgan received $10,000 from Sureguard/PBM, one of the companies that submitted a bid for the demolition and asbestos removal from an abandoned theater on Eight Mile Road. Despite Morgan’s efforts to steer the contract to Sureguard/PBM, the Board of Supervisors awarded the contract to another company which submitted a lower bid.
The indictment further alleges that Morgan caused a fraudulently inflated change order to be submitted regarding the asbestos removal from the theater.
Morgan is further charged with asking for, and receiving payments of $500 and $1,000 from the owner of the company that had won the contract.
“Public officials have a duty to act in the best interest of the people they serve,” McQuade, said. “When they breach that duty by acting in their own financial interest instead, they will be prosecuted.”
Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, said, “Public corruption is a top priority for the FBI. We are committed to aggressively pursuing those who steal money from their communities and betray the trust of people to put them into office.”
Breck J. Nowlin, Special Agent in Charge, said, “Public corruption at any level strikes at the very heart of representative government. In this case, the very individuals in whom the people have placed their full faith and confidence have squandered that faith in order to personally profit from the programs they are charged to administer. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement colleagues to root out this type of corruption and to protect these valued programs.”
“Asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal diseases and has no safe exposure level. That’s why the main question that a public official should ask himself when awarding an asbestos abatement contract is, ‘who can best do the job competently, safely and cost-effectively?’ ” said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan. “EPA takes the allegations in the indictment very seriously and we will work closely with our law enforcement partners on this prosecution.”
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI, H.U.D. Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Environmental Division, Criminal Investigation Division.