39ºF

Defender's share exclusive details from federal investigation into Detroit demolitions

DETROIT – The Local 4 Defenders learned new details of a multi-million dollar federal investigation into Detroit's $250 million demolition program.

Detroit's demolition program first raised questions in 2015 when demolition prices skyrocketed. Mayor Mike Duggan had promised to knock down dangerous dilapidated structures in record numbers and lots were clearing fast, but there were concerns as to how the firms were selected and how pricing was determined. An audit suggested potential bid rigging and the Detroit Land Bank paid back millions to the state to clear up concerns.

In 2017, federal grand jury subpoenas went out and a full federal investigation was underway. 

Aradondo Haskins was the first person to plead guilty in the investigation, admitting he took $2,000 per project in kickbacks, totalling $26,000.

Haskins was working for the construction firm Adamo Group as a project estimator and the subcontractor's operation was located right next door.

"He was actually leasing that space from Adamo, so I could just walk right over to his office," Haskins said. 

He also plead guilty to taking bribes while working for the Detroit Building Authority.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Prison is not a place that I ever thought that I would be going," Haskins said. "It hurts a lot of people, my family, my kids, but when you commit a crime you have to do the time."

It was his children that brought Haskins to the Adamo Group -- his current job required long out of town trips and the single father of two wanted to be home.

The mayor's office said the federal indictments claim Haskins acted without the knowledge of Adamo or Detroit officials. A representative for Adamo said the company is a victim of Haskin's fraud.

Haskin is more optimistic and believes the multi-million dollar investigation will lead to more indictments than his own. 

"It's bigger than me," Haskins said. "But that's up to the the federal government."

He hopes prison is not the end of his story and that the light shined on city contracts from his misdeeds will ultimately lead to a fair process that includes smaller, more local companies, getting work from the city. He also hopes his actions opens a dialogue about how these kinds of misdeeds can occur.

"If I'm an example of what not to do, we talk about it," Haskins said. "I talk to them about why it happened, why it shouldn't and why they shouldn't do any of these things either."

The U.S. attorney's office said no public officials are expected to be charged in the investigations.

Haskins is expected to return to court Aug. 13 for sentencing.