Former Warren councilman again facing federal charges

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published October 21, 2016

 Charles Busse

Charles Busse


DETROIT/WARREN — Charles Busse, an attorney once cleared of public corruption charges while he served as president of the Warren City Council, is back in hot water with the federal government.

In an indictment unsealed on Oct. 20, Busse, 58, now a resident of Birmingham, was charged with bribery, conspiracy to defraud the United States and criminal tax evasion as part of an alleged scheme to obtain deferrals of deportation and other fraudulent immigration benefits for numerous clients.

Also indicted was Clifton Divers, 48, of Detroit, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with whom Busse allegedly conspired.

According to federal court documents, the alleged acts occurred between 2009 and 2015. In the unsealed indictment, the government alleges that Busse conspired with Divers and other individuals, both known and unknown, to defraud the U.S. by impairing, obstructing and defeating one or more if its departments or agencies.

Federal prosecutors allege that Busse defrauded the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and that he “collected tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to counsel and to assist clients in obtaining deferrals of deportation and other immigration benefits by fraud.”

The indictment alleges that Busse conspired to fabricate information about alleged criminal activities and that the bogus information was offered as “staged cooperation” with federal law enforcement for the purpose of obtaining deferrals of deportation and other immigration benefits. Busse allegedly bribed Divers, and also allegedly counseled clients who provided false information to federal agencies to hide the fact that he had been retained as their attorney.

The allegations involve clients from Albania, Iraq and Mexico, referred to in the indictment only by what appears to be two- or three-letter initials.

In prepared remarks, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said, “Anyone who abuses a federal law enforcement position for personal profit can expect to face serious penalties, including criminal prosecution.”

Giovanni Tiano, special agent in charge of the Detroit office of the Department of Homeland Security, added, “Acts of corruption within the Department of Homeland Security represent a threat to our national security, and the Office of the Inspector General is committed to doing everything possible to eradicate those who place our country at risk.”

At press time, neither Busse nor Divers had retained legal counsel to represent them in the case, according to federal court records.

Busse could not immediately be reached for comment at his law office in Rochester.

He previously served 16 years on the Warren City Council in four consecutive four-year terms and was the council president when he lost his re-election bid in November 2003.

In April of that year, Busse was cleared on seven felony counts in a federal public corruption case that saw him 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 the city’s General Employees Retirement System, while Busse served as a councilman and a trustee on the board governing the system.

The previous indictment, unsealed in 2001, was the culmination of a federal probe into Warren politics that began in the late 1990s.

“This really renews our confidence in justice,” Busse said following his acquittal in 2003. “I’m not a perfect man, but there are men in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aren’t perfect. Sometimes, the government gets it wrong.”

The latest allegations against Busse and Divers carry a maximum penalty of five to 15 years in federal prison.