Last month, a grand jury indicted former Former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Celia Washington.
She is accused in the indictment of conspiracy to receive kickbacks for allegedly influencing towing contracts.
“I feel betrayed,” Washington said.
She said she left private practice for a career in the Detroit Police Department because she wanted to serve the city. She says she was blindsided by the indictment.
Washington found out about it when a friend told her her name was in the newspaper, and found out she was accused of meeting with the owner of a towing company and taking at least $3,000, a bribe to help him get towing permits.
“Absolutely untrue,” she said of the allegation. “I did not accept money from anybody to do anything criminal.”
Washington says she didn’t accept any money at all from a towing contractor.
The indictment does not name the company, but a lawsuit since filed against Washington accuses her of helping Detroit towing mogul Gasper Fiore get business.
The City of Detroit accused him of cheating Detroit out of tax dollars for years. He is also facing charges connected to a public corruption investigation in Macomb County.
Washington says not only did she not accept bribes, she did not have control over who got towing permits. Many levels of city government oversaw that.
“It was transparent. The commissioners were involved. The mayor’s office, city council and the law department. Obviously, I was livid when I found out I was accused of this,” said Washington.
“We intend to fight these allegations and the public needs to know that Celia Washington is not guilty of these allegations,” said Arnold Reed, Washington’s attorney. “We are looking forward to our day in court.”
Washington is speaking out as she is being sued for costing other towing companies business because they were not part of the alleged corruption.
Her attorney says minutes of city meetings and depositions given by other Detroit Police employees show she did not have control of who towed for the police department.
“What I have to do is to fight,” said Washington. “I am not going to be the scapegoat. I have to send that message to everybody and they know who they are. I am not going to be the scapegoat.”
Washington and her attorney say so far in the discovery process they have not seen any recordings that back up the allegations from federal investigators. Washington says that is because they do not exist.