SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On June 5, Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis told the Shelby-Utica News that he will give $12,800 in campaign funds, which people charged with federal crimes had donated to him, to the Shelby Township veterans memorial fund.
Stathakis listed Charles B. “Chuck” Rizzo; his father, Charles P. Rizzo; Derrick Hicks; and Charles Busse as the benefactors of the campaign donations.
It is alleged that Chuck Rizzo, Charles Rizzo and Hicks, among others, plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars by using a fake legal settlement agreement, fraudulent consulting deals, cash kickbacks, shell companies and stealing money to pay for part of the construction costs of Charles Rizzo’s Bloomfield Township mansion.
Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch said the criminal charges, which were announced May 31 and include bribery and fraud, are related to refuse contracts with Clinton, Macomb and Chesterfield townships.
Bribes reportedly were paid to public officials for the maintenance and procurement of additional municipal garbage contracts. According to a press release, Chuck Rizzo allegedly referred to the embezzlement scheme as “OPM,” or “other people’s money.”
On May 1, Busse, a former Birmingham attorney, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for his role in “a multiyear immigration fraud and bribery scheme,” Lemisch announced in a press release. Lemich stated that Busse “preyed upon illegal immigrants for one purpose: his own enrichment.”
In 2001, while he served as the president of the Warren City Council, Busse was accused of taking cash payoffs and other incentives in return for the support and protection of companies doing business with the city of Warren and its General Employees Retirement System. He was acquitted in the case.
“People have been indicted who donated to my campaign,” Stathakis said. “After much reflection and consulting with friends and family, I decided I cannot sit idly as a federal corruption probe continues.”
He said that while the contributions were legal, he still felt compelled to act.
“I’ve decided to follow the lead of Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller and donate the funds I’ve received (from those) involved in a federal government corruption probe to the Shelby Township veterans memorial,” Stathakis said. “I feel it’s appropriate to give the funds to the memorial to honor residents who died for the rights and freedoms that these parties have abused.”
Stathakis said that he does not know any of the campaign donors personally.
“I get a lot of donors in Macomb County, not just here in Shelby Township, so I just have to be watchful,” he said. “I will be doing this on my own time. I’m calling on my cellphone, and this is my lunch break. I’m real careful about that.”
Stathakis said he did not want to return the money to the donors or give it to a committee on which he serves or a church, so he decided over the weekend that he would give it to the veterans memorial fund.
Shelby Township Veterans Event Coordinator Phil Randazzo said he has big plans for the funds.
On June 6, Randazzo said he had already ordered the marble base for the Heart of America memorial. He said he also plans to raise and even out the landscaping on the hill so that he can move the Global War on Terror memorial and put it on a riser. He said he also has plans to improve the water feature.
“It’s going to be sharp,” he said. “(I’m excited to) get this finished off for the families.”
In an emailed statement to the Shelby-Utica News, Miller said her campaign for Macomb County public works commissioner had received campaign donations from the Rizzo PAC and some individuals who worked for or with Rizzo.
“These funds were donated shortly before the FBI investigation was announced, and I immediately returned all of those campaign donations as soon as I read about the investigation, even though there were no indictments at that time,” she wrote. “This would have been last fall, so about nine or 10 months ago.”
For more information, call the Supervisor’s Office at (586) 731-5154.
Staff Writers Nick Mordowanec and Brian Louwers contributed to this report.