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Kickback contractor’s sentencing rescheduled in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 15, 2019

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Much like a plea hearing from June in federal court for a former trustee, sentencing for a local contractor has been delayed.

Christopher Sorrentino, of Macomb Township, was scheduled to be sentenced July 9 in federal court. On July 8, sentencing was rescheduled for Sept. 10 before U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland.

Sorrentino, 53, accepted a plea deal in October 2017, admitting to paying more than $90,000 in kickbacks to a Macomb Township elected official, later identified as Dino Bucci, a month after he was charged with one count of structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

Bucci was accused of embezzling and conspiring to embezzle nearly $100,000 from Macomb Township in connection with Sorrentino.

The money came from two parking lot repavement deals where Bucci allegedly orchestrated for Sorrentino to get overpaid for work another company did, and Bucci would get a kickback while promising Sorrentino future work in the township.

The 18 criminal charges Bucci was indicted on in November 2017 allegedly took place over a nine-year period and included kickbacks, embezzlement and bribery in both his position as a trustee for Macomb Township and with the Macomb County Department of Public Works.

A 2017 press release from the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Michigan states Bucci collected a kickback of $66,000 in cash in a bag at the headquarters of the Macomb County Department of Public Works.     

According to Sorrentino’s court documents and testimony, in 2014, Sorrentino’s business was paid for work repaving the Macomb Township Hall parking lot that another company did. Bucci allegedly directed Sorrentino to pay the company that did the work for a lower bid and then to pay him the kickback.

In August 2014, Sorrentino’s business was asked to provide a proposal to repave the Macomb Township Hall parking lot. Sorrentino’s bid came in at $254,500.

Two weeks later, the unnamed official told Sorrentino to immediately come to the parking lot to start work on the job, but when he arrived, another company was already performing the work.

After the work was completed by the other company, Sorrentino received a check for his full bid price and was instructed by the elected official to pay $181,055 to the company that did the work and give the remaining money, around $73,000, back to the official in cash.

Sorrentino reportedly objected to not getting any portion of the money but having to pay taxes on the funds, at which time he said the elected official agreed to him keeping $7,000 to pay taxes and the official would direct future township work to Sorrentino’s company.

On Nov. 5, 2014, Sorrentino wrote and cashed seven checks all under $10,000 in the total amount of $66,024. According to the Bank Secrecy Act, banks only have to report transactions of $10,000 or more on any given day, and Sorrentino’s checks did not meet that requirement.

According to the plea deal, Sorrentino made no money in the end and instead lost money because of what he had to pay in taxes for the two checks.

In June, Bucci’s final pretrial and plea hearing was cancelled. A final pretrial conference is set for Jan. 7, 2020, with a jury trial moved from July 15 to Jan. 21, 2020.

Bucci is reportedly cooperating with the government, which the parties believe will eventually lead to a resolution of the case with a plea to one or more offenses.

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