Former Wayne County airport contractor pleads guilty to paying $5 million in bribes, kickbacks

William Pritula pleads guilty to bribery charge

A former airport contractor pleaded guilty to paying more than $5 million in bribes and kickbacks. (WDIV) (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A former contractor at the Wayne County Airport Authority pleaded guilty Monday to paying more than $5 million in bribes and kickbacks, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.

William Pritula, 69, of Romulus, admitted to paying co-defendant James Warner, a field inspector at the airport, more than $5 million between May 2010 and August 2014.

Pritula owned and operated Pritula and Sons, a company that sought and entered into contracts for pavement repair and replacement, It also worked on water main repair and fire hydrant installation and maintenance at the Detroit Metro Airport.

Pritula is accused of participating in a scheme in which Warner would draft and submit fraudulently inflated invoices for work Pritula was contracted to perform at the airport.

Pritula would kick back roughly half of the profits to Warner, according to authorities. Law enforcement has seized $11.4 million in criminal proceeds, including $7.5 million from Pritula and $3.9 million from Warner.

"Today’s guilty plea to one of the largest bribes prosecuted to date in the Eastern District of Michigan reinforces our continued commitment to protecting our citizens from the fraud, waste and abuse that stems from bribe-paying contractors who are motivated by greed rather than a desire to improve our public infrastructure," Schneider said.

Pritula has pleaded guilty to bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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