Local attorney files lawsuit to have Bucci removed from office

Board again asks for Gov. Snyder’s help

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 20, 2018

 The Macomb Township Board of Trustees has authorized Supervisor Janet Dunn to send another letter to Gov. Rick Snyder asking him to take action in removing Trustee Dino Bucci from his position for not attending a meeting since November after his 18-count federal indictment.

The Macomb Township Board of Trustees has authorized Supervisor Janet Dunn to send another letter to Gov. Rick Snyder asking him to take action in removing Trustee Dino Bucci from his position for not attending a meeting since November after his 18-count federal indictment.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Township resident and lawyer Frank Cusumano Jr. is seeking the removal of Trustee Dino Bucci from the Board of Trustees after filing a lawsuit Aug. 9 with the Macomb County Circuit Court.

In the suit, Cusumano, who represented former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger in her legal battles against the county, claims that taking bribes from a contractor and working with a former trustee to secure a contract for a bribe before he was re-elected in 2016 made Bucci ineligible to be elected, therefore he is not properly holding the office and should be removed.

Bucci was brought up on an 18-count federal indictment last November that includes kickbacks, embezzlement and bribery by Bucci in his position with the township over a nine-year period. Bucci has not attended a board meeting since and has resigned from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

In the suit, Cusumano highlights two people who have taken plea deals in the past year — contractor Christopher Sorrentino, of Macomb Township, and former Macomb Township Trustee Clifford Freitas.

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 a kickback in the amount of $66,000.

Similar circumstances arose in 2015 with the Macomb Township Fire Department parking lot project, with Bucci allegedly getting at least $30,000 in kickbacks from Sorrentino. Sorrentino accepted a plea deal in October of last year.

Freitas, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison on July 31, pled guilty to securing a waste hauling contract for Rizzo Environmental Services with Macomb Township for a $7,500 bribe in 2015. Freitas’ attorney, Daniel Garon, stated in a memo that Freitas was groomed by Bucci and RES CEO Chuck Rizzo into being part of the scheme.

Because both incidents took place before the 2016 election, Cusumano claims Bucci has usurped the trustee position. Bucci was first elected as a trustee in 2000. The “quo warranto” claim is one Macomb County used against Spranger and Cusumano in the county’s efforts to remove her from her position.

“If he took bribes in 2014, he was ineligible to hold office,” Cusumano said. “We can’t allow this to continue. Apparently he is going to try and milk the township for several thousands of dollars until something happens in federal court.”

Bucci’s attorney, Fred Gibson, did not return a request for comment by press time. The next court date for the suit is scheduled for Aug. 27 in front of Judge James Biernat.

Cusumano is one of many to attempt to try and get Bucci removed from his role as trustee since the indictment. He had previously sent an email to Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith asking them to investigate if Bucci broke any local or state laws.

The Macomb Township Board of Trustees will send another letter to Gov. Rick Snyder asking him to take action against Bucci as, according to Michigan Election Law, the governor is the only one who can remove an elected township official.

The board had previously instructed Supervisor Janet Dunn to send a letter to Snyder in January, which she did. In Snyder’s response, his lawyer said he was interested in seeing how a recall petition played out.

However, the recall vote petition did not get enough signatures, so Trustee Nancy Nevers requested another letter be sent from Dunn to Snyder at the Aug. 8 meeting. The motion was unanimously approved and Dunn said she would send it the following day.

“I would like to make that motion that you do another letter to the governor that he recall Dino Bucci in light of the fact that the petition failed,” Nevers said.

State Reps. Steve Marino and Jeff Yaroch are also continuing their efforts to have Bucci removed as they work on a new state-level plan that would establish a three-person Michigan House committee to investigate Bucci’s conduct and make a recommendation on what should be done.

The two Republican representatives, who combined represent the entirety of Macomb Township, had previously sent a letter to Snyder asking for Bucci to be removed.  The committee could recommend articles of impeachment, which would be voted on by the House. The resolution is expected to be formally read into record in September.

“Bucci isn’t fit to serve the people of Macomb Township,” Marino said in a statement. “He is cheating taxpayers and undermining public trust in local government as he fails to fulfill the duties of his office. Simply put, it’s time for him to go.”

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