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 Former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci, right, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds on May 28. He could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay up to a $250,000 fine.

Former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci, right, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds on May 28. He could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay up to a $250,000 fine.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


Macomb County corruption cases continue with guilty pleas, indictment

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 29, 2020

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MACOMB COUNTY – After little information was publicly released from federal officials regarding Macomb County corruption over the last several months, a flurry of activity came about the week of May 25. 

First, on May 27, former Macomb County Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Marrocco was federally indicted on extortion charges.

The following day, May 28, former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci plead guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. 

Bucci’s plea hearing, which took about one hour, was conducted by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland with Zoom video conferencing because the Port Huron courthouse is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 80 attendees from the public listened live to the hearing. 

Bucci, 60, was seen wearing a suit and tie, and was joined in a room with his attorneys Stephen Rabaut and Fred Gibson. 

With the guilty plea, Bucci’s maximum combined penalty is 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The federal government is recommending Bucci spend no more than nine years in prison. 

Bucci worked as a Macomb Township trustee from 2000 until the Board approved a message from him to be a resignation letter in November 2018, and for the Macomb County Public Works Office from 1994 to 2016. 

Cleland explained that for someone to be guilty of a conspiracy requires an agreement between at least two people aimed at the commission of a crime. The two people in this case were Bucci and Marrocco.

A United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Michigan press release indicates that Bucci, at the direction of his then boss Marrocco, extorted builders and contractors to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tickets to Marrocco’s fundraisers.

Bucci admitted in the hearing that at Marrocco’s direction, he would communicate to the builders and contractors that if they did not purchase a sufficient amount of fundraising tickets, they would suffer severe economic consequences. 

To prove guilt of extortion, Cleland said it would have to be true that Bucci wrongfully obtained money from another person, did so means of extortion by imposing wrongful fear of economic harm with the person’s consent. It would also have to be true that Bucci and Marrocco knew the victim of extortion gave part of the money because of extortion and as a result, interstate commerce could’ve been affected in some way.

Also as part of the plea agreement, Bucci admitted to a theft scheme by which he and contractor Chris Sorrentino would overbill Macomb Township for paving work on two separate projects. The overbilling came to about $96,000, in which Sorrentino paid Bucci in cash. Last May, $66,000 was repaid to the township by Bucci. 

“Bucci’s guilty pleas today represent a significant milestone in our sweeping corruption investigation in Macomb County,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “The lengthy prison sentence he faces should be an unambiguous warning to all public officials who consider committing corrupt acts that they will be caught and punished severely.”

Aside from the court proceeding, Bucci, nor his attorneys, provided additional comment. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Michael Bullotta said that with the plea, the government dismissed the pending indictment against Bucci. In November 2017, Bucci was federally indicted on 18 criminal charges that allegedly took place over a nine-year period and involved kickbacks, embezzlement and bribery.

Bullotta also said both parties recommend that due to Bucci’s “extraordinary poor health” to apply a variance downward in the sentencing guidelines. 

A March court document stated that Bucci has serious medical issues, including diabetes and multiple strokes.

Bucci’s sentencing is set for Oct. 1. 

A separate cooperation agreement is also part of Bucci’s case, in which Bucci agreed to fully cooperate with the government by providing assistance in the investigation and prosecution of others.

The investigation in Bucci’s case was conducted by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Marrocco, 71, of Ray Township, was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion in a scheme spanning over two decades.

The 14-page indictment filed March 11, 2020, also charges Marrocco with two counts of extortion and one count of attempted extortion.

For each of the four counts of the indictment, Marrocco faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

It’s alleged by federal authorities that some of the money Marrocco solicited from fundraiser’s was used to pay for personal expenses like air travel to Florida and Massachusetts, expensive meals at restaurants at Palm Beach and Delray Beach in Florida, spa visits and yacht club charges.

So far, 22 public officials, including former Macomb Township Trustee Cliffod Freitas, and bribe-paying businessmen have been charged and convicted, including two defendants convicted after jury trials.  

In 2018, Freitas was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to taking bribes in his position with the township.

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