by: Zlati Meyer
An ex-Detroit Public Library official has been charged with accepting $1.4 million-plus in bribes and kickbacks from library contractors. Timothy Cromer, who’d served as DPL’s chief administrative and technology officer from 2006 until earlier this year, was charged in a 21-count superseding federal indictment today, along with contractors James Henley and Ricardo Hearn.
Each bribery count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which also wants the related money forfeited. It wasn’t clear today if Cromer and the two contractors have been arraigned yet on the charges.
The indictment said that in 2007, Cromer helped Henley set up a business, which Cromer then ensured won an estimated $1.8-million IT services contract with the library. Of that, Henley gave Cromer about $500,000. Henley’s Core Consulting & Professional Services later scored other work for the library, which netted Cromer another $125,000, the indictment charges.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Cromer also got an estimated $800,000 from Hearn’s company, Cubemation, after he OK’d approximately $2.8 million worth of no-bid contracts.
“If the allegations are true, it was a betrayal of the entire library community — the public, the staff — and the library’s going to fully cooperate, as they have been,” Russell Bellant, president of the Detroit Library Commission, told the Free Press. “We want justice brought as much as anyone in the world. … He was in a position of trust in a very specialized area, and he abused his trust.”
Bellant added that since the allegations began swirling, DPL “took a number of actions in terms of the contracting process.” All contracts now must be brought before the Library Commission and must be competitively bid. The commission has also strengthened its whistler-blower policy.
The Detroit Public Library has had a tough few years. A $10-million budget deficit in 2011 translated into shuttering two of 23 branches and getting rid of 83 staffers, which represented 20% of the library system’s employees.
The FBI and the IRS investigated the bribery case.
“Our public libraries exist for the cultural and intellectual enrichment of our citizens, not for the personal profit of the officials who work there,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a written statement.
“The bribery scheme alleged in the indictment represents a betrayal of the honest employees who have dedicated themselves to serving the Detroit Public Library and its patrons. We will do all we can to root out such corruption and deter officials from using public funds for self-enrichment.”
This article was written by Zlati Meyer and originally published onfreep