Ex-Detroit pension trustee Paul Stewart sentenced for corruption, fraud

Stewart gets 57 months in prison for taking bribes, kickbacks

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DETROIT – Paul Stewart, who is a former trustee of Detroit's Police and Fire Retirement System and a retired Detroit police officer, was sentenced Tuesday to 57 months in prison for taking bribes and kickbacks from businessmen who sought and received hundreds of millions of dollars from the pension system.

Stewart, former pension fund lawyer Ron Zajac, Atlanta businessman Roy Dixon, and former city treasurer Jeffrey Beasley were convicted in the scheme last year. They all took plea deals.

The kickbacks include free trips, cash and massages. Stewart also is accused of lying to a grand jury.

"As a Detroit police officer, Stewart swore an oath to enforce and uphold the law. By demanding and accepting bribes in exchange for his vote as a pension trustee, Stewart broke his oath, broke the law and betrayed his fellow police officers," said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuaid in a news release. "To make matters worse, he attempted to obstruct the investigation by lying to the grand jury. The court's sentence today sends a strong message that public officials will be held accountable when they abuse their positions of trust to personally profit at the expense of pensioners."

Earlier this month, Beasley, who was former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's fraternity brother, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his part.

Zajac, who was set to be sentenced this past July, died at the age of 71 just weeks before the scheduled sentencing. Northville Township police said it was due to natural causes.

Dixon is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.

"He pleaded guilty to giving bribes to trustees of the pension funds for the city of Detroit in return for favorable votes from them," said Dixon's attorney, Edward Wishnow.