DETROIT, MI – Detroit Police Officers Association officials have turned over records to federal authorities as part of an investigation into former Detroit police union officials, a police source told The Detroit News.
The records requested by the U.S. Department of Labor were from Jan. 1, 2006 to March 31, 2012, DPOA President Joe Duncan said.
“About two weeks ago, the DPOA recently received a federal grand jury subpoena requesting material for an investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor,” Duncan said. “We understand the association itself is not the target of the investigation; in any event, we have no grounds to challenge the legitimacy of the subpoena.
“We were requested not to disclose the existence of the subpoena. We honored that request, until media reports surfaced about this incident.”
A source familiar with the investigation added that the probe is looking into alleged improprieties involving former union officials, including an SUV given to the union’s former vice president when he retired in the middle of his term in May 2011. When former DPOA vice president Paul Stewart stepped down unexpectedly in the middle of union negotiations, the union’s executive board voted to give him a fully-loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee SRS as a retirement gift.
The police source told The News the Department of Labor is looking into that gift as part of their investigation.
Duncan, who became union president in January 2012, said reports that the DPOA office on Jefferson was being raided by federal authorities were wrong.
“There’s been no raid,” Duncan said. “We were supposed to turn everything over by Wednesday; we called them and told them we had what they had asked for. Yesterday afternoon, a special agent picked up these documents. Someone put a rumor out there that we were being raided by the FBI. That’s completely false.”
A spokeswoman with theU.S.Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., would neither confirm nor deny any potential investigations.
Stewart, a former Detroit police officer and former member of the police and fire pension board, was questioned as part of a federal probe into pension fund fraud.
Stewart was named in a federal indictment against former Detroit Treasurer Jeff Beasley.
Top pension fund lawyer Ronald Zajac was unnamed in the indictment but dates listed in the court filing and pension fund meeting minutes indicate Zajac is “Attorney A,” who is accused in the indictment of soliciting large cash gifts for Beasley, Stewart and another pension fund member.
According to the indictment, Zajac helped organize birthday parties at the Atheneum for Beasley in January 2007 and for two police and fire pension board trustees in August 2007. Many of the guests were people with financial ties to the pension funds.
“In order to attend the party, these people were asked to donate large sums of cash for a birthday present,” the indictment alleged. In all, Beasley received $10,000 at the birthday party.
At a second party in August 2007, two pension fund trustees received $5,000 each.
Based on meeting minutes, one trustee was Stewart, the former vice president of the Detroit Police Officers Association.
Months after the party, Stewart and Beasley voted to increase Zajac’s annual salary by more than 33 percent.
The pension board is still determining Zajac’s fate.
Stewart was not charged. He retired in May 2011.
From The Detroit News