Rizzo attorney indicted as part of corruption probe

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published August 12, 2019

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METRO DETROIT — Attorney Jay Schwartz, who was the former business attorney for trash hauler titan Chuck Rizzo, was indicted July 2 for his role in a Macomb County corruption probe that has produced more than 20 convictions and guilty pleas.

The indictment, which was unsealed Aug. 6, charges Schwartz with three counts of bribery and bribery conspiracy as part of his alleged role with Rizzo and former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison this past February after a jury in June 2018 found him guilty of 10 counts of bribery and four counts of conspiracy.

Schwartz was mentioned numerous times during Reynolds’ trial last summer.

If found guilty, Schwartz could be sentenced to up to 10 years behind bars, pay a $250,000 fine, or both.

Federal court records indicate that Schwartz posted $10,000 bond Aug. 6. He is being represented by attorney Thomas Cranmer, of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone.

“The allegations in the indictment against Jay simply aren’t true, and we look forward to proving that in court,” Cranmer stated in an Aug. 7 email to C & G Newspapers.

According to the indictment, Schwartz has practiced law in Michigan since 1991 in multiple facets: family law, business law and litigation.

Prosecutors state in the indictment that Schwartz was one of the key players involved in the Rizzo Environmental Services scandal that rocked Macomb County. Unlawful actions allegedly took place between about March 2014 and January 2016, according to prosecutors.

It is alleged that Schwartz was involved in offering Reynolds cash and free legal service during his divorce, in exchange for a Clinton Township garbage contract that was valued at about $18 million.

Prosecutors allege that Sch-wartz, who was described as Rizzo’s business lawyer and confidant, “would provide free legal services to Dean Reynolds in order to influence and reward him with respect to Reynolds’ assistance as a Clinton Township trustee” in order to maintain the waste hauler contract.

Numerous phone calls in 2015 are referenced in the indictment, including ones involving Reynolds, Schwartz and Rizzo. Calls reportedly mention cash bribe payments of thousands of dollars, as well as a promissory note used to conceal payments from Rizzo in accordance with Reynolds’ divorce.

Schwartz, according to prosecutors, “did corruptly give, offer and agree to a thing of value, that is, free legal services, to any person that is Dean Reynolds, intending to influence and reward Reynolds, an agent of Clinton Township, in connection with business and transactions of Clinton Township involving $5,000 or more.”