Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wait … Matty Moroun doesn't call shots for Ambassador Bridge?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 3:22 PM

For anyone wondering about that odd squishing noise emanating from the courtroom of Wayne Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards, we’ve discovered the source: It’s the sound of Detroit International Bridge Co. President Dan Stamper being thrown under a fast moving bus.

You may recall that Edwards, back in November, ordered Stamper and the man widely believed to be the owner of the DIBC — Manuel “Matty” Moroun — into court. The good judge is rightly peeved that the company has persistently refused to abide by the terms of its Gateway Project contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. Having found the company in contempt of court for the second time, Edwards ordered a Jan. 12 hearing so that he could mete out the appropriate punishment to those he thinks are in charge, namely Stamper and Moroun.

As it turns out, though, octogenarian billionaire Matty is in charge of

well, basically nothing. At least that’s what his lawyers claim in court filings.

Mr. Moroun is not the owner of DIBC, and is not the decision maker with respect to the Gateway Project. For these reasons

Mr. Moroun’s presence at the hearing will not assist the Court in devising appropriate sanction. Mr. Moroun respectfully requests that his attendance be excused.”

So, who is calling the shots?

Stamper, who was briefly jailed a year ago after Edwards first found the company in contempt for refusing to obey his order to complete its share of southwest Detroit’s Gateway Project, is definitely on the hot seat. Moroun’s lawyers argue in a brief filed Dec. 21 that Stamper is the guy solely responsible for overseeing that project, a joint venture between the DIBC and MDOT.

So, who does own the bridge company?

That’s where things get a little complicated.

According to the court filing, the bridge company is solely owned by a corporation called DIBC Holdings. Something called the Manuel J. Moroun Trust has a “minority interest” in DIBC Holdings. Moroun’s son, Mathew Moroun, controls majority interest, according to a filing submitted by the state Attorney General’s Office, which represents MDOT in this case.

Atop the chain of command, according to court testimony previously provided by Stamper, is the board of directors of a corporation called CenTra. Sitting on that board are Matty Moroun, his wife Nora, and his son Mathew.

Which, if the state’s attorneys are correct, means it’s not just Stamper that Matty has thrown under the bus in an attempt to keep from spending some time wearing an orange jumpsuit.

“Mr. Moroun has provided this Court with a basis to order the attendance of his son Mathew T. Moroun, the other owner of DIBC Holdings, as well as his wife, Nora Moroun, who along with Manuel and Matthew Moroun, controls CenTra, Inc.”

Edwards issued a notice saying he will decide the matter Jan. 12 — the day Matty has been ordered to appear before him.


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