Former Detroit police deputy chief denies role in towing contract bribery scheme

Celia Washington denies claims she took bribes to manipulate towing rotations

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - The former deputy chief of Detroit police, who is charged with taking bribes, told her side of the story, saying federal officials have it all wrong.

Celia Washington defended herself Monday after she was charged earlier this month with taking bribes to manipulate Detroit's towing rotations.

Washington faces two counts of bribery and conspiracy. Federal prosecutors claim she took kickbacks from Detroit towing magnate Gasper Fiore, and in return, she would give his company, Boulevard Trumbull, priority on towing runs.

Local 4's Rod Meloni spoke with Washington and her attorney, and she flat-out denied the claims.

Washington and attorney Arnold Reed said federal officials don't understand how the towing contract operated. They claim the Detroit Police Department knows Washington didn't do anything wrong.

"Certainly, it's extremely troubling," Detroit police Chief James Craig said two weeks ago.

Washington is Craig's former deputy police chief and attorney, but now she's charged with taking cash bribes and facilitating towing contracts.

"I am deeply disappointed with the allegations that have been made against me, though the facts will come out in court and I look forward to that encounter," Washington said. "I look forward to defending my honor and my integrity and to clear my name."

Washington and Reed asked the city to provide documents from a Detroit police internal affairs investigation.

They claim internal affairs found no criminal wrongdoing nor department policy violations on her part. They said Craig was relieved to hear it.

"We want the proof," Reed said. "We want the hard, cold facts and evidence that my client didn't commit a crime, and in fact, she was cleared."

It's unusual for a defendant in such a case to say so much, but Washington and Reed said the chief and federal officials are wrong about the case.

"I have the utmost esteem for the men and women in blue, and I am proud of the work that I did for the Detroit Police Department and the city of Detroit," Washington said.

Washington will appear in front of a judge Tuesday for her arraignment. She said she will plead not guilty.

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