Feds: Rizzo is greedy, not a bul­lied vic­tim

The Detroit News - - News - BY ROBERT SNELL The Detroit News

Detroit — Dis­graced trash ti­tan Chuck Rizzo should spend more than six years in fed­eral prison for brib­ing “two-bit cor­rupt politi­cians” and steal­ing from in­vestors, in­clud­ing Boy Scouts, pros­e­cu­tors said Mon­day.

The re­quest served as a re­tort to Rizzo’s nov­e­l­esque bid for le­niency ahead of an April 23 sen­tenc­ing in front of U.S. District

Judge Robert Cle­land. Rizzo blamed his crimes on cor­rupt politi­cians and school­yard bul­lies who hurt his feel­ings by spit- ting on him.

Rizzo, 47, of Bloom­field Hills is one of the cen­tral fig­ures in a wide­spread cor­rup­tion scan­dal that en­snared Ma­comb County politi­cians, fel­low busi­ness mogul Gasper Fiore and Detroit po­lice of­fi­cers.

Rizzo bought politi­cians on the cheap — $206,000 se­cured the votes of elected lead­ers in four com­mu­ni­ties — while cor­rupt­ing mu­nic­i­pal trash-haul­ing con­tracts worth tens of mil­lions of dol­lars ob­tained by his Ster­ling Heights-based com­pany, pros­e­cu­tors said.

The con­tracts helped Rizzo En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices ex­pand into a re­gional pow­er­house that boosted the value of his stake in the com­pany, which was ma­jor­ity owned by a New York pri­va­tee­quity firm.

Be­fore the com­pany was sold in 2016, Rizzo em­bez­zled more than $900,000 from the pri­vate-eq­uity firm and in­vestors, which in­cluded Boy Scouts of Amer­ica, the Mon­tana state pen­sion sys­tem and the Ari­zona state em­ployee pen­sion fund.

“Al­though Rizzo seeks to re-char­ac­ter­ize him­self as the vic­tim in this drama, his own ac­tions and words demon­strate that he was the epit­ome of a ruth­less CEO break­ing the law and com­mit­ting crimes, sim­ply to get more money,” As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­neys David Gardey and Michael Bul­lotta wrote.

Rizzo, who was jailed in Fe­bru­ary af­ter vi­o­lat­ing bond con­di­tions, is push­ing for less time in prison than the 75 months re­quested by pros­e­cu­tors.

His lawyers ar­gue more than 30 com­mu­ni­ties that con­tracted with Rizzo En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices saved $28.8 mil­lion by hir­ing the firm in­stead of com­peti­tors.

Rizzo struck a plea deal af­ter co­op­er­at­ing with FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors and has agreed to for­feit $4 mil­lion.

The cor­rup­tion scan­dal has led to crim­i­nal con­vic­tions of politi­cians across Ma­comb County, in­clud­ing Ch­ester­field Town­ship, New Haven and Ma­comb Town­ship. In all, 20 peo­ple have been charged so far and pros­e­cu­tors have se­cured 15 con­vic­tions.

“Rizzo’s crimes have un­der­mined the con­fi­dence that the cit­i­zens of sub­ur­ban south­east Michi­gan had in their lo­cal elected of­fi­cials be­cause of the cor­ro­sive na­ture of Rizzo’s cor­rup­tion,” the pros­e­cu­tors wrote.

“While the two-bit cor­rupt politi­cians with whom he dealt sought a few thou­sand dol­lars here, a few thou­sand dol­lars there, in or­der to sat­isfy their petty greed, Rizzo had grander am­bi­tions. Rizzo’s goal was to se­cure mil­lions of dol­lars by build­ing a busi­ness through his Machi­avel­lian schemes.”

Rizzo spent the $900,000 liv­ing a lux­ury life­style and a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar man­sion on a man­sion “built on a foun­da­tion of crime,” pros­e­cu­tors said.

He will have ac­cess to sig­nif­i­cant re­sources once he is re­leased from prison, pros­e­cu­tors said.

“Through its sen­tence, this court can put Rizzo on no­tice that his fu­ture busi­ness en­deav­ors need to scrupu­lously com­ply with the law,” pros­e­cu­tors wrote.


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