Pension

Feds: Send greedy ex-cop to prison for at least 8 years

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Prosecutors on Wednesday painted a former high-ranking Detroit cop convicted in a Kwame Kilpatrick-era corruption scandal as a greedy liar and remorseless, entitled bribe-taker who should spend at least eight years in prison.

In a blistering filing, federal prosecutors made the request two days after Paul Stewart’s co-defendant, ex-Detroit Treasurer Jeffrey Beasley, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in a scandal involving city pension funds.

Stewart, 57, was vice president of the Detroit Police Officer’s Association and a trustee on the city’s Police & Fire Pension fund from 2005-11. During that time, businessmen pitching investments to the pension funds paid bribes and kickbacks for his vote totaling $63,750, including cash hidden in a Christmas basket, a $5,000 casino chip, trips to Florida for Stewart and a mistress, limousine rides, drinks, meals and entertainment, prosecutors wrote.

In return, the bribe payers received $5.2 million from money-losing investments approved by Stewart that cost cops, firefighters and beneficiaries more than $47 million, prosecutors said.

“Stewart did not conduct himself as a public servant and keeper of a trust so much as an entitled and pampered taker, indulging his own vices at the expense of those to whom he owed a duty of trust,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Dawkins Davis wrote.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds will sentence Stewart on Sept. 29.

Stewart was found guilty of pocketing bribes and kickbacks following a trial in December. Along with Beasley and the late pension fund lawyer Ronald Zajac, Stewart was accused of weakening a retirement system that faced takeover during the city’s bankruptcy case.

During the trial, Stewart admitted accepting some cash, trips and other perks but said the gifts came from friends and did not influence his investment decisions.

On Wednesday, prosecutors said Stewart’s corruption and greed betrayed the trust of city retirees and workers.

“Stewart sought to take advantage of his position for his own personal benefit, without a care for the damage that it could inflict on the tens of thousands of pensioners, beneficiaries, and employees,” Dawkins Davis wrote. “The damage caused by Stewart to Detroit’s two pension funds can be measured in terms of direct financial loss from corrupt investments, lost opportunity costs of better, non-corrupt investments, and the psychic damage to elderly pensioners concerned about their financial futures in light of Stewart’s corruption.”

Stewart lied during the grand jury investigation and, again, during trial about accepting bribes and changing his vote on an investment, Dawkins Davis wrote.

“Unlike many other defendants who choose to remain silent at trial, Stewart tried to beat the system and, in the process, he committed an additional crime,” she wrote. “His sentence should reflect this fact.”

Along with lying, Stewart is remorseless, Dawkins Davis wrote.

“Stewart’s lack of remorse and willingness to commit perjury at trial does not give any confidence that he will not commit new crimes if given the liberty to do so,” she wrote.

Stewart’s pampered lifestyle extended beyond the pension fund, the prosecutor wrote.

As union vice president, Stewart pocketed $8,000 in union campaign donations, charged gas fill-ups on a union credit card, and spent more than $10,000 in union funds at Sinbad’s Restaurant and Marina on the city’s east side, according to the filing.

When he wasn’t making the union pay for his meals, Stewart drank and ate for free, thanks to pension fund businessmen, namely Greektown mogul and restauranteur Jim Papas, the prosecutor wrote.

Stewart also received a $5,000 casino chip from Papas, who had a financial stake in several transactions involving the pension boards, the prosecutor said.

One of those pension fund deals backed by Stewart paid Papas a $600,000 fee.

“The pensioners and employees had the right to expect that Stewart would use all of his skills, talents, and integrity to ensure the security and growth of the money entrusted to his care,” Dawkins Davis wrote. “Instead, they got widespread graft, extortion, and theft.”

The Detroit News

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