ROYAL OAK TWP. (WWJ) - A Royal Oak Township supervisor has pled not guilty in an alleged corruption scandal.
William Morgan has been indicted and arrested on bribery charges in connection with a federal Housing and Urban Development contract.
Federal investigators say Morgan took $10,000 from a company that was bidding for a demolition contract at a vacant, asbestos-riddled theater on Eight Mile Road. The company did not get the bid, but Morgan allegedly asked for, and received, additional money from the firm that did. He’s also accused of padding the clean-up costs for the building.
“Public officials have a duty to act in the best interest of the people they serve,” said United States Attorney Barbara McQuade, in a statement. “When they breach that duty by acting in their own financial interest instead, they will be prosecuted.”
FBI officials in Detroit say public corruption is always top priority for the FBI, but this is also an issue of public safety.
“Asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal diseases and has no safe exposure level. That’s why the main question that a public official should ask himself when awarding an asbestos abatement contract is, ‘who can best do the job competently, safely and cost-effectively?’” said Randall Ashe, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan.
“EPA takes the allegations in the indictment very seriously and we will work closely with our law enforcement partners on this prosecution,” he said.
Morgan was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of bribery and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, violating the federal Clean Air Act.
The indictment was unsealed Tuesday, the day of his arrest.
WWJ spoke with Randall Pentiuk, the Township’s general counsel.
“I can assure you that residents can rest easy that they have a township board comprised of six other individuals that are very committed, very loyal to the township, and will be working very hard to take care of the government business there,” Pentiuk said.
Pentiuk said there’s no word yet on whether Morgan will choose to keep his position as supervisor during the case or step down.