SHELBY TOWNSHIP (WWJ) – A death in Macomb County is a possible blow to an ongoing corruption investigation.
Former Washington Township Public Works superintendent Steven Hohensee was charged with accepting a $10,000 bribe from an undercover FBI informant. But a plea deal was in the works, the 61-year-old cooperated with the FBI to help bring charges against a number of others in the investigation.
Wednesday, two days after he released on bond, Hohensee died in his Shelby Township home of what Deputy Police Chief Mark Coil said appeared to be “natural causes.”
But speaking to the Detroit News, Coil said authorities will take another look to rule out foul play, adding that police didn’t know about Hohensee’s role in the FBI investigation.
On Friday, the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office said there was no cause of death to release, telling WWJ the death is still being investigated.
Wayne State University professor and former federal prosecutor Peter Henning says the problem is any statements made by Hohensee will not be admitted in court because he would have to physically be there to testify.
Henning said, however, that although Hohensee’s statement won’t be heard, evidence including recordings could still be allowed.
“What you really lose, though, is the kind of flavor of the case that he can provide,” Henning told WWJ’s Zahra Huber. “And he can in effect put you inside the room, or he could have put you inside the room, and say this is what happened, this is how people reacted. That’s lost now with his death.
“So it can take away some of the power of the government’s case, but certainly it doesn’t cripple the case.”
Sixteen people have been charged in the Macomb County probe.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.