DETROIT – A federal indictment was unsealed today charging two Detroit police officers—one of whom was a lieutenant who had been in command of the Detroit Police Department’s Integrity Unit—with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, in connection with the corruption of towing permits in Detroit, Acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin announced.
Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Charged were Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, 56, of Rochester Hills, and Officer Daniel S. Vickers, 54, of Livonia.
According to the indictment, while serving as the supervisor in command of the police department’s Integrity Unit, which was responsible for investigating reports of law violations and professional misconduct by police officers and other city employees, Kennedy conspired with Vickers to commit bribery by accepting money and other items of value in exchange for Kennedy using and promising to use his influence as a supervisor to persuade other officers to make tow referrals to a towing company in violation of the city’s ordinance and Detroit Police Department policy. The Integrity Unit is part of the department’s Internal Affairs Division. Under the city’s towing rotation, qualifying private towing companies are called by the police to tow cars that are seized by the police or reported stolen. Kennedy and Vickers were aware that by making towing referrals directly to a towing company which was not on the city’s towing rotation, they were violating the city’s rules and an ordinance which prohibit a towing company from receiving towing referrals if they are not on police department’s towing rotation.
It was also part of the conspiracy that Kennedy and Vickers conspired to solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash, cars, car parts, car repairs, and new carpeting for Vickers’ home, in exchange for providing the towing company that Kennedy was investigating with information about the status of the Integrity Unit’s case.
As part of the conspiracy, between October 2018, and March 2021, Kennedy accepted over $14,000 in cash, cars, and car repairs as a bribe from the owner of the towing company and from an undercover federal agent. Between February 2018 and June 2018, Vickers accepted $3,400 in bribe payments from the towing company. Kennedy is charged in three separate bribery counts, in addition to the bribery conspiracy count. Vickers is also charged with three bribery counts besides the conspiracy charge.
The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The bribery conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
This is the second case charged as part of the government’s investigation known as “Operation Northern Hook.” Northern Hook is an investigation of corruption within the government and the Police Department of the City of Detroit relating to the towing industry and other matters.
Acting United States Attorney Mohsin said, “The vast majority of police officers are outstanding public servants and the criminal actions of these defendants should not undermine the public’s trust in law enforcement. Police officers who compromise the integrity of the Police Department by prioritizing personal gain over policing excellence will not be tolerated, and this type of betrayal of the police department and the citizens of Detroit will be thwarted at every turn. Today’s indictment is a step in that direction. We thank the Detroit Police Department’s Chief, James White, for his assistance in this investigation.”
“Police officers take an oath to protect and serve their community. Kennedy and Vickers allegedly used their official positions to benefit themselves personally. Their actions are not in keeping with the integrity and professionalism exhibited by the Detroit Police Department every day,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “The FBI appreciates the partnership and cooperation of Police Chief James White as we continue to address public corruption in the City of Detroit.”
Chief White stated, “I am profoundly disappointed with the crimes allegedly committed by members of the Detroit Police Department. We continue to work with our Federal partners to ensure corruption and misconduct are rooted out of every area of Government operations including the Police Department. We hold ourselves to a high standard and these actions fall far short of those standards. It is also important to emphasize that the actions of a few do not represent the vast majority of the fine women and men of the Detroit Police Department who faithfully serve the citizens of Detroit on a daily basis.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dawn N. Ison and Eaton P. Brown.
An indictment is only a charging document and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.