PORT HURON, Mich. – Chuck Rizzo Jr., who authorities said was the central figure in the Macomb County corruption scandal, was sentenced to prison Monday for bribing elected officials to secure contracts, federal officials said.
Judge Robert Cleland sentenced Rizzo to 66 months -- 5 1/2 years -- in federal prison. That's less time than the 75 months the government wanted, but the defense wanted far less.
Rizzo spent the last two months in the St. Clair County Jail, so when he showed up in court Monday, he looked far different than he did previously. He wore an orange jump suit with canvas blue shoes while shuffling along in wrist and ankle chains.
His family and friends gathered inside the Port Huron courthouse to hear Rizzo and his attorneys plead their case for the amount of jail time he should serve for pleading guilty to bribery and wire fraud charges.
Federal officials said Rizzo became uncooperative after helping to build several bribery cases and even took $26,000 from another defendant without telling the FBI he'd be done so.
The defense claimed Rizzo never intended to stop cooperating, calling it a great misunderstanding after Rizzo's attorney died last year. Rizzo rose and spoke to the judge in a highly emotional admission of guilty.
"I have let many people down and disappointed business associates, employees and officials," Rizzo said. "For all of that, I am genuinely sorry. I want to admit it and accept responsibility. There is no excuse for crimes I committed. I'm ready to accept my punishment and ready to put this chapter of my life behind me. I was too focused on getting ahead. I miss my family more than I could ever tell you. It is the only reminder of why I must do better, and I will. I will never let it happen again."
Rizzo's defense team asked if he could serve his prison time in Pensacola, Florida. The judge said he would make that recommendation.