DETROIT (WXYZ) — A federal investigation underway for several years in Detroit is now bringing the first charges of fraud and bribery.
Detroit has received nearly $260 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds for blight and vacant building demolitions. It is the largest program in the nation.
Two men charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court. The charges brings up to 5 years in prison. The plea deal recommends 24 to 30 months when 61-year-old Anthony Daguanno and 48-year-old Arandondo Haskins are sentenced in August.
Both men worked for Adamo, a contractor that does demolitions for the city of Detroit.
The men pleaded guilty to providing confidential bid information to a subcontractor to become a partner with Adamo in thousands of demolition deals. Arandondo also worked for 10 months for the city in 2015 and 2016 and was paid two bribes during time, according to court documents. His total bribes collected were $26,500, according to the feds.
Daguanno was paid 71 bribes, totaling $372,000 from the same subcontractor whom the feds did not name.
Dauguanno’s Defense Attorney Richard Helfrick says he believes the feds are just starting their charges describing his client as “a small fish in a big pond.”
He also said the feds have several people in from Washington D.C. on this Detroit case saying, “When you go to a meeting with them, there’s like half a dozen lawyers there from the government - all different agencies, so something’s going on.”
Both Daguanno and Arandondo are free on bond and must also pay restitution in the amounts of the bribes they collected in the plea deal.
According to a release, the government, as of Tuesday, does not anticipate charging any additional public officials in this current criminal investigation.