Prosecutors called it “chilling” and “shocking.” A high-ranking official in the Detroit, Mich., office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement named Roy Bailey was responsible for supervising the custody and transportation of detainees facing deportation proceedings. But Bailey allegedly used his authority to establish a crooked and lawless world where two kinds of people existed: “those he favored and those he did not,” as the government would later characterize it. Business owners and lawyers who bribed him with cash and free services could commit extensive immigration fraud while Bailey ignored it, according to court records. A September 2007 felony indictment alleged that in one instance he took cash, casino chips, clothing and jewelry worth over $10,000 in exchange for allowing a woman to enter the United States and later adjust her immigration status. In another case, he purportedly accepted landscaping work to be done at his house. Those who could or would not buy his influence suffered considerably, the government contended. Among other things, a failure to cooperate resulted in Bailey doing nothing to stop a detention officer who worked directly beneath him from stealing more than $300,000 in cash between 2000 and 2004 from hundreds of immigrants caught up in a jail facility, court documents charged. The officer later confessed that his thefts occurred as often as two to three times a week. Not only did Bailey look past the conduct, “he intimidated and actively dissuaded other employees to keep them from reporting the criminal activities to the proper authorities,” prosecutors claimed. After being indicted, Bailey pled guilty in 2008 to conspiracy and bribery charges, and a judge sentenced him to three years in prison. The subordinate who took money from bags of personal property belonging to alien detainees, Patrick Wynne, was sent to prison for almost five years following an embezzlement plea. Michigan hasn’t made it easy for the public to determine how well it’s managed tens of millions of dollars in federal homeland security funds received since 2001. In response to a request submitted under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, officials provided just 15 pages of records describing the its allotment of funds. The Michigan State Police is in charge of grants there, and even though we asked for detailed equipment purchase lists approved by the department, the material turned over contained only generic categories, such as $11 million for “equipment” and $838,000 for “training” planned during 2003. What specific types of equipment jurisdictions ultimately purchased was not included. You can download those documents here. The records cover 2003 to 2007. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general did catch up to Michigan in February of 2008 for a look at how the state had handled anti-terrorism cash. One county purchased an emergency response trailer for $11,000 that was simply “not needed” and parked behind a fire station surrounded by weeds, according to a report. The audit further found that a $33,000 vehicle was being used by a county emergency management director for daily commuting in violation of grant guidelines. In six counties, federal auditors discovered emergency equipment “that was not immediately accessible or not maintained in ready condition,” including personal protective gear kept in storage boxes that was not assigned or fitted to first responders. Officials from the state police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division promised in response to the report that they would review the equipment purchases and determine a course of action. But state authorities also didn’t make sure local grantees bought equipment and services linked to actual needs and priorities, a major feature of the grants designed to prevent shopping sprees that do little to improve readiness, according to the audit. In addition, the report concluded, Michigan had originally designated “substantial funds” from grant programs for learning how to respond to weapons of mass destruction. However, more than half the training cash from one grant account – at least $387,000 – ended up being used for other things instead. The state couldn’t specifically account for how such money was alternatively spent. Officials countered that grant rules initially barred payments to volunteer and part-time first responders, which many communities in Michigan relied on, so dollars had to be spent elsewhere. But they admitted that documents provided to explain the expenditures “were inadequate.” They added that a new monitoring system for the grants was in place.
G.W. Schulz is a reporter for Reveal, covering security, privacy, technology and criminal justice. Since joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2008, he's reported stories for NPR, KQED, Wired.com, The Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones and more. Prior to that, he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was an early contributor to The Chauncey Bailey Project, which won a Tom Renner Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors in 2008. Schulz also has won awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California Chapter. He graduated from the University of Kansas and is based in Austin, Texas.More by G.W. Schulz