Ex-Macomb public works boss Anthony Marrocco gets 3 months in federal prison #ExMacomb #public #works #boss #Anthony #Marrocco #months #federal #prison #englishheadline


PORT HURON — He was the political powerhouse the feds wanted.

Three years after he was indicted, ex-Macomb County public works commissioner Anthony Marrocco was sentenced Thursday to three months in prison and two years of supervised release in a federal prison in a wide-reaching corruption probe that nailed politicians on both sides of the aisle as well as a towing titan and a trash kingpin.

Marrocco’s attorney had cited the ex-politician’s age of 74, his medical problems and the nature of offense in urging that he not be jailed, but rather that he be sentenced to probation or home confinement. His first 450 days of supervised release will be in home detention, with no internet use and no guests or visitors who aren’t preapproved.

Former Macomb County Public Works Director Anthony Marrocco leaves the federal courthouse in Port Huron after being sentenced Thursday, March 16, to three years in prison and two years of supervised release in a corruption probe.

Former Macomb County Public Works Director Anthony Marrocco leaves the federal courthouse in Port Huron after being sentenced Thursday, March 16, to three years in prison and two years of supervised release in a corruption probe.

Prosecutors strongly disagreed in a sentencing memorandum, arguing Marrocco already was getting a reduced sentence of 10-16 months per his plea deal.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland sentenced Marrocco during a hearing Thursday in federal court in Port Huron. Marrocco is to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons by June 15.

Unchallenged and answering to no one

Marrocco spent 23 years as public works commissioner, answering to no one and virtually unchallenged in elections until he lost in 2016. Amid the corruption probe, more than 20 other people were charged. Among them was Marrocco’s former righthand man and ex-Macomb Township trustee Dino Bucci, a key witness in Marrocco’s case whom prosecutors called “a bully and a criminal.” Bucci died five months before he was to be sentenced in the corruption probe.

Marrocco was indicted in 2020 on four counts — two counts of extortion and one count each of attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. He was thought to be the biggest figure in the corruption probe that also brought down garbage tycoon Chuck Rizzo and towing titan Gasper Fiore.

More:Ex-Macomb official Dino Bucci dies 5 months before sentencing in federal corruption case

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In September, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion, with his attorney Steve Fishman saying after that hearing that prosecutors made a “very fair offer.”

If the court accepted the plea agreement and imposed a sentence consistent with its terms, federal prosecutors would dismiss the other charges. The plea deal included a 10- to 16-month sentence, a reduction from the sentencing guideline range of 18 to 24 months.

Judge’s questions led to a delay in sentencing

The reduction was related to Marrocco’s age, poor health and Bucci’s death, according to Fishman’s 16-page sentencing memorandum. The parties agreed there was to be no restitution.

Marrocco’s sentencing in January was delayed after questions about presentence reports, a break in the proceeding and a short discussion with both sides in Cleland’s chambers.

Cleland said he was concerned that the presentence report for Marrocco — to which neither Fishman nor prosecutors had objections — was “so narrow” that it did not fairly describe the events. Cleland said he “had to resort” to other materials, including a presentence report for Bucci.

Cleland, who presided over the Bucci case, said the two acted together and had a longtime relationship. He said materials for Bucci he reviewed showed a relationship between Marrocco and Bucci.

Fishman told Cleland that Bucci, under oath, denied what he admitted in his plea agreement and said his word “is bubkes.” He told Cleland he was “troubled” the judge reviewed that material, adding he didn’t didn’t know if they should proceed that day.

More:Macomb County’s culture of corruption: ‘It’s how it’s always been’

Fishman previously wrote the count involved an attempt by Marrocco to persuade a Macomb County developer to buy tickets to a campaign fundraiser by threatening to delay or deny the approval of the developer’s permit. The developer didn’t buy any tickets.

“That, in a nutshell, was the extent of the offense,” Fishman wrote, adding that Marrocco didn’t receive a dime in his own pocket from any of his fundraising efforts during the years.

‘Will society … benefit from a custody sentence for Mr. Marrocco?’

Prosecutors said Marrocco’s crimes went deeper, but Bucci’s death “prevented the government from presenting a complete and fulsome view of the manner in which the Public Works Department was operated over Marrocco’s tenure. In other cases, the government has similarly been forced to lessen applicable punishment in the face of lost witnesses or evidence.”

“Considering these circumstances then, the government and Marrocco reached a resolution: Marrocco agreed to plead guilty to the attempted extortion of Developer A, and the government dismissed the remaining charges.”

In his memo, Fishman stated Marrocco’s internal medicine doctor provided a letter summarizing Marrocco’s physical condition and need for careful monitoring by his doctors, saying his clinical status “remains problematic and requires careful follow-up and observation.”

Marrocco is on medication to prevent stroke, which also is a blood thinner that requires monitoring for possible side effects, and he requires intermittent CAT scans of his lungs. He also has hypertensive heart disease and atrial fibrillation, according to Fishman’s memo.

“Due to his age and the nature of those problems, Mr. Marrocco needs to be in a place where his treating doctors are able to see him and deal with any emergencies that arise. That place is not the Bureau of Prisons,” Fishman wrote.

He added: “Will society as a whole and the criminal justice system in particular benefit from a custody sentence for Mr. Marrocco? Defense counsel suggests that the answer is clearly no. There is nothing about the facts of this case or the history and characteristics of Mr. Marrocco that mitigate in favor of a custody sentence. Therefore, the Court should not impose such a sentence.”

More:Ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith in federal court: ‘I acted for my own benefit’

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‘Kiss the ring’

But prosecutors balked in their scathing 16-page sentencing memorandum that began:

“For Anthony Marrocco, it wasn’t about the money. He had that in spades. It was about power and respect. For over two decades, Marrocco had unchecked control of the Macomb County Public Works department. And he used it to do what he wanted. When he wanted it. So after a developer wouldn’t bend to his pressure, Marrocco sought to punish him — threatening to grind his construction projects to a halt.”

They said they already agreed to a variance of the sentence, “and a further reduction would not account for the seriousness of the offense or the need to deter others.”

They requested 16 months in custody, saying it would send an “appropriate message” to other public officials and is “a measure of the respect that Marrocco should have shown to the power of the law and the need for public officials with integrity who put the interests of the citizens first.”

Prosecutors agreed that Marrocco didn’t profit from his crime.

“But this misses the point. The crime here was not motivated by money, but by power. And corrupt behavior fueled by power is equally disastrous,” they wrote.

They stated the victims were Macomb County residents and Marrocco’s behavior damaged the operations of the Public Works Department “and the public’s trust in our elected officials. It was, in other words, a serious crime.”

“You either kissed the ring or your business came to a halt,” their memo stated. “Noncriminal public officials do not behave in this manner, and Marrocco’s criminal conduct deserves to be punished.”

More:Ex-Clinton Twp. official gets 17 years in corruption probe

More:Ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith released from federal prison

Similar sentences and ‘vitriol’

Prosecutors also referenced sentences of other former public officials charged with taking bribes in the corruption probe, including ex-Clinton Township trustee Dean Reynolds, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison after he was convicted at trial, and ex-New Haven trustees Chris Craigmiles and Brett Harris, who received 18 months and 15 months, respectively, after pleading guilty.

Fishman filed a prompt rebuttal about the “vitriol” in the prosecutors’ memo, saying “the government does not care if Mr. Marrocco does not make it through its suggested prison term.”

He argued the court should “see through the government’s attempt to bring in through the side door allegations that could never get through the front door.”

Christina Hall: Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-Macomb official Anthony Marrocco gets 3 months in federal prison

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