Rochester man accused of scamming Detroit Metro Airport out of $1.5 million

Gary Tenaglia charged with wire fraud


ROMULUS, Mich. – The Wayne County Airport Authority has seen its share of scandals over the years, and now it has been swindled out of more than $1 million.

The alleged swindler is a high-profile Metro Detroit businessman.

When winter weather hits and airport officials have to de-ice equipment on the planes, the parking deck also needs to be de-iced. When it isn't, the police are called.

The FBI and Airport Authority claim Gary Tenaglia, of Rochester, was contracted to apply a substance called NAAC to the 6,500-space Big Blue Deck at Detroit Metro Airport's North Terminal during wintry weather.

The charging document says that, in 2011, Tenaglia, through a company called Envision, collected $1.5 million to do so, but never ordered the de-icer. Instead, he is accused of pocketing the cash.

Tenaglia is well-known as being the man who purchased the old Big Buck Brewery. A couple of years ago, he sold and removed the famed beer bottle from the side of the highway and opened an entertainment complex called The Hub.

In 1999, Tenaglia pleaded guilty to stealing electricity from DTE Energy after he allegedly split an electrical main and ran a cable from his neighbor's house to his then-home, a gated Washington Township estate.

Tenaglia is used to the millionaire lifestyle. His 12,000-square-foot Rochester mansion is up for sale. It comes complete with a varnished wooden helicopter hanger, an outdoor luxury pool and many high-end extras. The asking price is just under $5 million.

Here is a statement from the Airport Authority:

"WCAA has been fully cooperative in the investigation pertaining to alleged actions that occurred between 2012 and 2014. However, we cannot comment further at this time, given the pending proceedings."

Tenaglia has not been arraigned, but he has officially been charged with wire fraud.

Federal officials said Tenaglia commingled the money he received in the case, and they will have to seize assets in order to get the airport's money back.

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