MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – A corruption probe surrounding trash titan Chuck Rizzo has rocked Macomb County, and now he's being hauled in front of a federal judge on accusations that he tampered with a witness and obstructed justice.
The Justice Department wants Rizzo wants him behind bars immediately. They might get their wish, as Rizzo is accused in court documents of something that would irreparably harm his plea agreement.
Rizzo has already pleaded guilty to bribing elected officials and stealing money from his own company once it was bought by a private equity firm, but in the beginning of the criminal probe, he also worked for federal officials and wore a wire, bringing down towing magnate Gasper Fiore and others in the process.
But Rizzo's collaboration with federal officials soured, and he ultimately reached a plea deal in which he would likely serve six years in prison. Now, all bets are off.
"When you do this, potentially influencing a witness, violating a no-contact, you run the risk of the judge deciding whatever the original agreement was isn't strong enough and isn't punitive enough," Legal expert Neil Rockind said.
Rizzo has been out on bond and was ordered to stay away from the witnesses testifying against him. Federal officials said he was at the MGM Grand on Dec. 16 when a man they're calling "Witness A" happened to be there as well.
"Witness A" was a Rizzo employee whose cooperation has been critical to the federal case against Rizzo. According to federal officials, Rizzo had his father text "Witness A," saying he'd like to say hi.
"Witness A" thought he was going to see Charles Rizzo Sr., but was greeted by Rizzo Jr., who then laid into him. Federal officials said Rizzo Jr. tried to get "Witness A" to commit perjury and obstruct justice by lying about money Rizzo Jr. was stealing.
The U.S. attorney is now asking the judge on the case to revoke Rizzo Jr.'s bond immediately. Rockind said it's a sure bet.
"The judge is going to revoke Mr. Rizzo's bond," Rockind said. "I would bet the farm."