Former Ficano aide in court facing federal charges

DETROIT (WXYZ) - He was a trusted aide of the Wayne County Executive.  Today Michael Grundy had to face a federal magistrate – where he was arraigned on charges that include receiving kickbacks and extortion. 

Michael Grundy is free on bond – but one of the big items up for discussion in court Monday was whether he should be allowed to talk to witnesses in the Wayne County corruption case.

On his way out of federal court – former Assistant Wayne County Executive Michael Grundy refused to answer questions.

"No comment," Grundy told reporters.

Hours earlier inside the court – Grundy faced a magistrate to be arraigned on 25 federal charges, including extortion, wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 

Before County Executive Robert Ficano fired Grundy in November, Grundy was the Executive Director of HealthChoice of Michigan.

According to this grand jury indictment, Grundy conspired with his longtime friend, Keith Griffin, to enrich themselves with money that was supposed to be used to provide low cost health care to the people of Wayne County.

In 2009, Griffin set up a company called Advertise Me LLC, and then invoiced Wayne County HealthChoice for more than $1 Million.  Federal prosecutors say the invoices were inflated, and Grundy received kickbacks from those payments.

The grand jury indictment also alleges Griffin incorporated another company called Medtrix LLC.  Grundy asked that $400,000 be transferred to Medtrix to develop an electronic medical records system for HealthChoice – even though another company was already doing that work.

Federal prosecutors say Grundy used his position with the county to enrich himself, by using deception and fear to extort a local healthcare company.  7 Action News first reported in November that the FBI had met with the CEO of ProCare Plus, to investigate allegations she had been pressured to provide thousands of dollars in kickbacks to Grundy.

"We intend to defend Mr. Grundy, we intend to oppose the charges, we believe that he has not done anything wrong, and we will fight for him," said Grundy's attorney Bill Swor.

As part of the conditions for granting Grundy's 10,000  unsecured bond, the magistrate wanted to make sure Grundy wasn't talking to other witnesses in the Wayne County corruption investigation.  Grundy's attorney, William Swor, was concerned that witness list could continue to grow – making that condition too difficult for his client.

"So the government has agreed that we will narrow down what they are concerned about, and we'll agree on it.  We don't have any problem, we want this to be appropriate, we want this to be fair for both sides, we want the truth to come out," said Swor.

Swor isn't commenting on whether Grundy plans to cooperate with the federal government… nor is he commenting on whether Grundy's friend Keith Griffin is going to testify against Grundy.  But it's interesting that Griffin is named in Grundy's indictment but so far hasn't been charged.

Grundy was surrounded by family and supporters Monday, including Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, the Senior Pastor at Greater Grace Temple. 

"He's like a little brother to me, a little kid that I've seen in the church for years," said Bishop Ellis.  "It's very difficult because you never want to see anybody facing these kinds of accusations or charges.  And you don't wish it on your worst enemy, because you know they're very serious charges, and they have very serious consequences."

If he's convicted, Grundy faces a maximum of twenty years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.

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