DETROIT (WWJ/WXYT) – Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun is a billionaire behind bars and a judge wants him, and Detroit International Bridge Company President Dan Stamper, to stay there until the I-75 Gateway Project is finished.

Attorneys for Moroun plan to file a second appeal Friday to get the 84-year-old businessman out of jail. Moroun and his top aide Stamper were ordered to jail Thursday for civil contempt — after their company failed to finish the $230 million Gateway Project to improve interchanges leading to the bridge between Detroit and Canada.

Moroun has been locked in a legal fight for years to prevent the state from building a second, publicly-owned span to Canada. Engaged in battle with the state, Moroun refused to meet the Michigan Department of Transportation’s 2008 deadline to  improve traffic to the existing bridge. In the meantime, trucks are using neighborhood roads, enraging neighbors, and they say, endangering them.

On Thursday, lawyers for Moroun and Stamper asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to release them, saying their clients’ rights have been violated. That request was denied.

WWJ Legal Analyst and Talk Radio 1270 morning show host Charlie Langton explained what will likely happen next.

“The judge is going to take control of this project. The judge is probably going to appoint someone, a different company or maybe MDOT, to complete this project at the cost to Matty Moroun. After a day or so in jail, that will wake up everybody and if I was representing Matty Moroun, I would propose that to the judge right now,” said Langton.

It’s understandable for the judge to be frustrated, but Langton thinks he might have stepped over the line by throwing Moroun in jail.

“The bottom line here, we want to get this project done. The judge is frustrated, I understand that, the judge is right, but to use the power of contempt to throw somebody in jail is extreme,” said Langton.

Having years of experience in the courtroom, what would Langton have done if he was in charge of the case?

“What I would have done if I was the judge is I would have said, ‘OK Matty Moroun and the Bridge Company, you are done, you are off the project and I’m going to appoint someone at your cost,'” said Langton.

“That would solve two problems. It would solve the problem of getting the bridge done and it would also prevent an 84-year-old person from going to jail, who has got no previous criminal record, who may not even be involved necessarily in the day-to-day operations of this Bridge Company,” he continued.

Langton said attorneys for the pair might appeal to the State Supreme Court, but he doubts they could win freedom there.

Meantime, Moroun’s son Matthew said his dad was “blindsided” by the judge’s order.

– More on this story, here –

Comments (3)
  1. marcus says:

    For all those who think that Matty sgould get out of jail We as a community would pray that you might take a drive through Delray to see for yourself the results of Matty’s delays and the devastation that has resulted from 17,000 additional trucks and cars a day driving through our community for six now going on seven years. The first two of which with I 75 closed dumped hundreds of thousands of vehicles onto our neighborhood streets.We have endured as our business district along Fort street has been destroyed. One third of our children have developed asthma. The lines of trucks driving past our homes, schools, stores and churches has been constant for six long years.We signed on to this project on the promise that our neighborhoods would be protected even improved and the opposite was always intended by the DIBC. Our homes, our neighborhoods and our quality of life have been diminished. Please consider all this as you weigh the contempt penalties, Every resident of Delray has suffered beyond measure and we feel this was done with the intent to drive us out of our homes and our community. We may not have a lot of money or much of a voice in government as our representatives have taken money by the millions to drown out the voices that cry from our neighborhoods. Yet these were still our homes, our dreams, our businesses, our families futures. We invested all we had and everything has been taken from us through the deceitful block busting business practices of this family, their billions of dollars and herds of lawyers. We have watched through the years as Matty, Nora and Mathew have cried through the media at how they are the victim, all the while victimizing every man woman and child in this community. Maybe through this lesson others would reconsider whether it is in their best interest to destroy a community for their self serving interests and force others to treat the people who are in the way of their development with consideration instead of contempt. I am not sure if anything can remove the despair from our community which has been sold out at almost all levels of government. Thank you Judge Edwards for your integrity it is sadly a rare quality in government. Thank you for taking the time to consider our plight your honor. We have placed our hopes in your office as most of our representatives don’t seem to understand that our lives should have more value than the money which lines their pockets from the family that has chosen to destroy us. The people of Delray

  2. Blake says:

    Mr. Langton is oversimplifying the situation when he says “if he were the judge”. What makes him think that Moroun and the Bridge company wouldn’t simply have launched a successive wave of appeals to the judge’s order if he had appointed someone to control the project? That would have delayed the project another more years.

    No – Moroun used his power and wealth to literally thumb his nose at the law. And now…the law has bitten him. No one is above the law.

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