Former Detroit police lieutenant pleads guilty to bribery charge

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 21, 2022

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ROCHESTER HILLS — A former Detroit police lieutenant has pleaded guilty to conspiring with another officer to commit bribery.

John F. Kennedy, 57, of Rochester Hills, pleaded guilty Aug. 24 in federal court to conspiring with another Detroit police officer to commit bribery, in connection with the alleged corruption of towing permits in Detroit.

United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison said the plea “represents our commitment to ensuring that the citizens of Detroit are protected by officers characterized by the highest levels of integrity.”

“We will not accept members of law enforcement who prioritize their personal gain over policing excellence,” Ison said in a statement.

At one point, Kennedy commanded the Detroit Police Department’s Integrity Unit and was responsible for investigating reports of law violations and professional misconduct by police officers and other city employees.

According to state officials, Kennedy conspired with another officer to commit bribery by accepting money and other items in exchange for Kennedy using his influence as a supervisor to persuade other officers to make tow referrals to a towing company. Under the city’s towing rotation, qualifying private towing companies are supposed to be called by the police to tow cars that are seized by the police or reported stolen.

Officials say Kennedy and the other officer also conspired to solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash, cars, car parts, car repairs, and new carpeting for the other officer’s home, in exchange for providing the towing company that Kennedy was investigating with information about the status of the Integrity Unit’s case.

Between October 2018 and March 2021, state officials say Kennedy accepted over $14,000 in cash, cars, and car repairs as a bribe from the owner of the towing company and from an undercover federal agent.

Ison also thanked Detroit Police Chief James E. White for his assistance in the investigation.

White said the actions of one officer “do not represent the largest policing agency in the state of Michigan and those who put themselves in harm’s way each day.”

“I’m disappointed that this officer has tarnished the badge that represents integrity and professionalism,” White said in a statement.

“We will continue to fully cooperate with our federal partners, and most importantly, be transparent with our community,” White stated.

If convicted, Kennedy faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Kennedy’s attorney, Sanford Plotkin, could not be reached for comment at press time.