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Retired Detroit police officer involved in vehicle auctions pleads guilty to taking bribes

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 11/16/2021 Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press
Retired Detroit police officer Alonzo Jones, left, enters U.S. District Court for a plea hearing on Nov. 16, 2021 with his lawyer, Todd Russell Perkins. © Joe Guillen/Detroit Free Press Retired Detroit police officer Alonzo Jones, left, enters U.S. District Court for a plea hearing on Nov. 16, 2021 with his lawyer, Todd Russell Perkins.

Alonzo Jones, a retired Detroit police officer who ran the department's vehicle auctions for more than 10 years, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to accepting $3,200 in bribes.

Jones, 55, admitted to U.S. District Judge George Steeh that he accepted numerous bribes between July 2019 and May of this year. The bribe payments came from a confidential FBI source involving in the towing industry and an undercover agent, according to prosecutors.

In exchange for the money, Jones falsified paperwork that transferred ownership of abandoned vehicles — without a public auction as required by law — to the confidential  source and the undercover agent.

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"I did some paperwork without the proper procedures and accepted some monies from one of the tow companies," Jones said in court.

Jones described about a half-dozen instances in which he accepted cash in exchange for falsified documents. The payments ranged between $200 and $1,000.

Jones, of Detroit, is the fourth person to face charges in connection with Operation Northern Hook, an FBI investigation into City Hall, the police department and the towing industry.

More: Detroit police officers accused of bribery in towing investigation plead not guilty

More: Detroit Councilman Andre Spivey admits he took bribes for help with towing

The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Jones' sentencing is scheduled for March 15. Jones is free until then on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

"Investigating and prosecuting bad cops is a top priority for our office because bad cops erode the public’s trust in law enforcement," Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. "The vast majority of police officers are honest, dedicated and hardworking individuals. But police officers who line their pockets with bribes, no matter how big or small, will be held accountable for their actions. Today’s plea highlights our office's commitment to prosecuting those small minority of bad cops who put their own greed before their duties as police officers."

Last month, two other Detroit police officers — accused of accepting cash, cars and other valuables in exchange for helping a local towing company skirt city rules —  pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in federal court. 

The investigation's first conviction came in late September when former Councilman Andre Spivey pleaded guilty to taking bribes totaling $35,900 in exchange for his help with the city’s towing regulations.

Staff writer Christine MacDonald contributed to this report.

Contact Joe Guillen: jguillen@freepress.com or 313-222-6678.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Retired Detroit police officer involved in vehicle auctions pleads guilty to taking bribes

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