DETROIT (WWJ) – A key figure convicted in a federal corruption case out of Detroit has died days before he was scheduled to be sentenced.
Ronald Zajac was a former top attorney with the city of Detroit’s pension fund. The 71-year-old was convicted of conspiracy last year in a federal corruption case with two other co-defendants reports WWJ’s Stephanie Davis.
He died Monday, police say, of natural causes. His attorney, Eric Ladasz is hoping the court will now dismiss the indictment.
Prosecutors say Zajac took bribes and kickbacks in return for approving $200 million in corrupt deals involving the city of Detroit’s pension fund.
Zajac, General Counsel of Detroit’s two pension funds, and Paul Stewart, a former trustee to the city’s Police and Fire Retirement System, were both indicted in 2013 on 13 counts of alleged corruption.
Federal prosecutors say that, between January 2006 and April of 2009, Zajac and Stewart conspired with other individuals to defraud current and retired city employees.
The indictment had alleged that Stewart literally got away with baskets of cash, and that Zajac forced people who had business with the pension funds to pay thousands of dollars to benefit pension trustees.
“Allegedly, they took money, trips, improperly spent money — all kinds of corruption, pay-to-play … and this is just the next phase of public corruption that the government is going after,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton in 2013.
Zajac was scheduled to be sentenced on July 28.
He had suffered health problems in recent years.