A Detroit police squad car.
A former Detroit detective who is now working for the Hamtramck Police Department was charged Friday with bribery in connection with an ongoing and far-reaching investigation into towing practices.
Michael Pacteles is accused of providing “favors” to a towing company in exchange for bribes, including a vehicle and $3,200 in cash. Among the favors was giving the towing company information about vehicles from the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network (LIEN), which is a restricted database. He also removed stolen vehicles from the police department’s database, which enabled the company to keep the cars, federal prosecutors allege.
Pacteles is the fourth current or former Detroit cop to be charged with bribery as part of an FBI investigation dubbed, "Operation Northern Hook,"
which is also targeting Detroit council members’ ties to the towing industry.
In a separate towing scandal, six Detroit cops
were sentenced to jail in an extortion scheme.
“Our office is committed to prosecuting those officers who cast a stain on these officers and who betray the public trust by accepting bribes,” acting Attorney U.S. General Saima S. Mohsin said in a statement. “Today’s criminal complaint shows our office’s commitment to that goal.”
As part of Operation Northern Hook, the FBI is also investigating Detroit City Council members Scott Benson and Janeé Ayers and former councilman Andre Spivey, who resigned in September
after pleading guilty to conspiring with an unidentified staff member to commit bribery.
Spivey and the staff member collected more than $35,000 in cash bribes from an undercover agent or confidential informant on eight different occasions between 2018 and 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The FBI raided the homes
and offices of Benson and Ayers on Aug. 25. They have not yet been charged.
In the general election earlier this month, Ayers lost her seat
“The citizens of Detroit deserve a city government that is free of bribes and corruption. These individuals erode the public’s trust in government and in the men and women who serve the city with integrity,” Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, said. “The FBI will continue to prioritize the investigation of government employees who break the law.”
Detroit Police Chief James White pledged to cooperate with the FBI.
“I am disappointed with these allegations but fully supportive of this investigation,” White said. “I would like to emphasize that the alleged actions of one former officer does not represent the vast majority of the exceptional men and women of the Detroit Police Department who go above and beyond the call of duty for our community each and every day. We will continue to fully cooperate with our federal partners to ensure that Detroit Police Department employees involved with alleged corruption and misconduct are held accountable for their actions. The Detroit Police Department takes pride in our transparency and aspire to achieve high standards of service and accountability and recognize that these alleged actions fall far short of those goals."
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