A former Macomb County politician and right-hand man to the county’s recently indicted ex-public works commissioner pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Thursday in a widespread federal corruption probe.
Dino Bucci, 60, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery and theft concerning programs that receive federal funds. More than 80 people attended the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland via Zoom.
The conspiracy charges were in superseding documents filed in federal court on Wednesday — the same day his former boss, Anthony Marrocco, the county’s ex-public works commissioner, was indicted in the probe.
Bucci had faced a slew of charges in an initial 2017 indictment. His trial on those charges was delayed more than a half-dozen times, in part, because he was cooperating with the government and because he had “serious medical issues” including “multiple hospitalizations.”
Prior federal court documents didn’t detail the type of medical issues, but it was noted that Bucci was in “extraordinarily poor health.”
Bucci’s sentencing is set for Oct. 1.
Bucci could be sentenced from 108 to 120 months in prison. He also could have to pay restitution of $96,000, of which $66,000 has already been repaid, an attorney for the government said. Bucci is cooperating and his sentence may be reduced because of that cooperation.
Bucci was charged in the years-long probe that brought down more than 20 people, including ex-garbage tycoon Chuck Rizzo and towing titan Gasper Fiore, as well as several local politicians.
Marrocco, a longtime political powerhouse and the key figure in the three-year-old federal investigation, was indicted in an alleged extortion scheme spanning two decades.
Marrocco, a Democrat who lost a reelection bid in November 2016 to Republican Candice Miller, is charged with two counts of extortion and one count of attempted extortion for allegedly using Bucci and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. The alleged extortion scheme ran from 1994 through 2016.
And if they didn’t cough up the money, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors and refusing to award contracts to firms.
Bucci was directed in the scheme by Marrocco, who lost his seat in the 2016 election, and participated in another scheme involving paving contracts in Macomb Township, where he served as a township trustee.
Bucci, dressed in a suit, sat between his attorneys, Stephen Rabaut and Fred Gibson, during the proceeding and answered the judge’s questions.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said that Bucci’s guilty pleas “represent a significant milestone in our sweeping corruption investigation in Macomb County. 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.”
Former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds received a stiff sentence of 17 years for running four bribery schemes in the probe. Rizzo and Fiore both got prison after pleading guilty to bribery.