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Detroit’s demolition program once again under scrutiny

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Federal prosecutors charged two ex-Adamo employees with taking bribes

An excavator sits at the site of a house demolition in Detroit. There’s dirt and fallen trees around the brick house, which has no windows or doors.
An excavator sits at the site of a house demolition in Detroit

Numerous outlets have reported that federal charges have finally been issued in the probe into the city of Detroit’s scandal-ridden demolition program. But fortunately for the city, that might be the extent of the damages in the years-long investigation.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors made charges public against two former employees of Adamo Group, a contractor that’s worked with the city on its extensive demolition program. The court documents state that Anthony Daguanno and Aradondo Haskins took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from subcontractors to secure favorable bids in the program.

In 2015, Haskins was actually hired by the Detroit Building Authority, which oversees the program along with the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

The federal probe had been underway for several years and rumors of corruption cast a cloud over Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration. Though the charges don’t leave the city unscathed, in many ways the news is a vindication. According to The Detroit News, court documents state that city officials were unaware of the bribery scheme and no more federal charges are expected.

The demolition program has been a major element of Mayor Duggan’s neighborhood revitalization efforts. The city has received hundreds of millions in dollars in federal funds to demolish more than 11,000 structures.

And this wasn’t the only time the program has come under scrutiny. Cost overruns required a 60 day stoppage and a $5 million settlement. Most recently it’s come under federal investigation for using contaminated dirt with high concentrations of chloride as backfill.