Former Troy city manager sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for bribery

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 24, 2019

 Former Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years of probation Jan. 24 after he pleaded guilty to bribery this past August.

Former Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years of probation Jan. 24 after he pleaded guilty to bribery this past August.

File photo provided by city of Troy

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TROY — Former Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years of probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery this past August.

He had faced up to 10 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison, who prosecuted the case, asked U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds at the Jan. 24 sentencing to base it on 46-57 months, due to Kischnick’s conduct. This included Kischnick living rent-free at the Somerset Park Apartments for three years at a cost of $42,000 to the owners, according to the sentencing memorandum.

Edmunds ruled that it didn’t rise to the level of the extortion that Kischnick had perpetrated on DiLisio Contracting, a cement contractor, and excluded it.

A Jan. 18 sentencing memorandum, signed by Ison and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, states that Kischnick “did not follow the rules, sought to champion his own interests, hired someone with whom he was having a romantic relationship, lived the high life on another man’s dime, and served as a poster child for abuse of power and the public trust.”

The 50-plus-page sentencing memorandum will be available on the city website, troymi.gov.

The memorandum describes Kischnick as a “rapacious manager who eventually came to treat the pockets of contractors, business owners and others attempting to do business in the city as his own and request cash bribes, free meals and alcohol, and eventually free housing and amenities for over three years, totaling over $50,000.”

The memorandum states that Kischnick used his city office to solicit bribes and other things of value. This included demanding bribes from DiLisio Contracting when Kischnick reportedly solicited a $15,000 bribe and asked Kurt Bovensiep, Troy’s director of public works, to tell the contractor that Kischnick wanted the contractor to replace the driveway at his home.

DiLisio sent Kischnick a $3,500 invoice for costs and labor only, including tree removal by the city arborist, which he never paid, according to the report.

Kischnick asked Bovensiep to contact DiLisio to meet for dinner during the 2015 Christmas holiday at a Detroit restaurant, for which DiLisio paid the tab. Kischnick reportedly continued the party at two Troy restaurants. DiLisio again paid the tab, for an unspecified amount, according to the court documents.

DiLisio, acting under the direction of the FBI, arranged a Christmas lunch at a Troy restaurant in December of 2017 with city employees whom Kischnick invited. DiLisio paid the $1,287 tab and gave Kischnick $1,000 in exchange for his support of the renewal of the city contract for concrete slab replacement services, according to the memorandum.

According to court documents, Kischnick removed the city Engineering Department from working on repaving roads in the Somerset Park Apartments with asphalt, demanding that the roadways be paved with concrete, with DiLisio as the contractor, without bidding the project, after he had lived rent-free in the apartments for six months.

On Jan. 22, 2018, based on Kischnick’s recommendation, the Troy City Council awarded DiLisio a one-year contract to provide concrete slab replacement services, with an option to renew for one additional year.

On March 6, 2018, under the direction of the FBI, DiLisio offered and Kischnick accepted a $2,000 bribe, according to the sentencing memorandum.

 

Kischnick is fired
The Troy City Council terminated Kischnick’s employment March 11, following a March 9 domestic assault charge in Clawson, to which he pleaded no contest.

The Solomon Organization, which owns and manages the Somerset Park Apartments, issued a statement via email.

“We fully cooperated with the investigation into a circumstance that is unlike any we have encountered,” stated Ron Simoncini, spokesperson for the Solomon Organization.

The sentencing memorandum mentions labor attorney Craig Lange’s June 2016 investigation of Kischnick after city employees raised concerns on issues involving a car accident with a city vehicle, as well as questionable moves involving a vendor, the purchase of phone accessories and the city manager’s car allowance.

“What is apparent from the pages of Lange’s report is the god complex with which Kischnick operated while city manager. He did not follow the rules,” the memorandum states.

DiLisio Contracting attorney John Freeman, in a Jan. 21 prepared statement, said that DiLisio Contracting “became a victim of Kischnick’s exploitation of (his) position for his own personal gain. During the course of the FBI’s investigation into Kischnick’s corruption, DiLisio Contracting cooperated with the government, which included giving things of value to Kischnick, at the direction and with the approval of the FBI and Department of Justice.”

Kischnick’s attorney, Anjali Prasad, asked Edmunds for a probationary sentence for Kischnick. Prasad said Kischnick tested negative for drugs and alcohol from March through August of last year, when he was stepped down from the testing.

“He’s been sober,” she said. She added that he had weaned himself off a number of prescription medicines, including Xanax.

“He was caught in a vortex of addiction” and was in a “horrible mental state,” Prasad said. “His therapists unanimously agree he is doing well. He is rehabilitating.”

Prasad said Kischnick attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a day, has support in the recovery community and had a job offer to raise funding for real estate in support of the recovery community. He also speaks to males in juvenile detention about addiction.

She noted that the FBI questioned Kischnick March 6, then “cut him loose” from the questioning when he lost his job March 11.

“He was not a mastermind in some pay-to-play scheme. He asked for money. He took money he shouldn’t have. He’s not a danger to the community,” Prasad said.

“His own employees were shocked and disgusted about the way he did business,” Ison said. She recounted Kischnick’s use of his car allowance, the phone accessory purchase, requests for free memberships at city venues for nonresidents and his family, requests for free meals and alcohol, and the driveway expansion and removal.

“He sought to champion his own interests, telling DiLisio, ‘Make it rain (money) and we’ll always be on your side,’” Ison said.

“He was so brazen,” Ison said. “He was corrupt from the start. He was forced to do better because of the supervision of the court.”

Councilwomen Edna Abrahim and Ellen Hodorek, Mayor Pro Tem Ethan Baker, Troy City Manager Mark Miller, and various city department heads attended Kischnick’s sentencing.

 

Kischnick’s statement
Before Edmunds sentenced him, Kischnick said he was sorry that his family, Troy residents, city employees and members of the recovery community had to be there because of his actions.

“My behavior caused harm to the public good … my family ... and the residents of Troy,” he said. “I lived a morally bankrupt life.

“People trusted and believed in me,” he said. “I let them down. I am deeply remorseful. I was emotionally bankrupt. I chose a dark, destructive path. My actions were morally wrong and criminal.”

He said that Alcoholics Anonymous saved his life and noted a family history of alcoholism, which resulted in the death of his brother in a car crash, and his father’s 30 years of sobriety.

“Alcohol and drugs did not commit this crime. Brian Kischnick committed this crime,” he said.

“It’s almost like they (Ison and Prasad) were talking about two different people,” Edmunds said, noting that Kischnick took advantage of citizens, the city, co-workers and city employees. “Everyone who had contact with him came away bruised in some way. He was working for personal gain, with his hand in the till, at every possible opportunity and (he’s) taken a lot of steps toward serious rehabilitation. I think Mr. Kischnick’s probably not going to reoffend.”

She added that the sentence for public corruption needed to send a proper message.

Kischnick must also pay restitution of $4,500 — $1,000 for the bribe he accepted from DiLisio and $3,500 for his driveway replacement and tree removal.

“I’m thankful that some justice was served,” said Baker. “We’ve suffered in so many ways because of Brian Kischnick.”

He said he was not surprised at the number of city employees who attended the sentencing, who he said “all had issues with the city manager.”

Baker added that there is a chance that the forensic audit currently underway could turn up more wrongdoing.

“This sentencing contributes to the deserved closure of this matter for the residents, businesses and employees of Troy,” Miller said in a prepared statement. “It is critical that there is trust in the government and its employees, which is fostered by integrity and transparency.”

The statement continues, “The city was fully cooperative with the FBI investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition, the city immediately audited its internal security systems and verified that Kischnick had very limited access opportunities to the city’s financial accounts. The city has also retained an independent CPA firm, Plante Moran, for a comprehensive forensic review of Kischnick’s financial expenditures during his five-year tenure, as well as any other anomalies. Plante Moran is also authorized to make recommendations for additional proactive measures to further insulate the city, as custodian of taxpayer money. This process is expected to be completed in the near future.”

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