Cop sentenced to probation for role in ticket-fixing scheme

By J. Patrick Pepper
Times-Herald Newspapers
DEARBORN — Former Police Cpl. Alex Ramirez was sentenced to four years of probation and $42,000 restitution last week for masterminding a traffic ticket fixing scheme that netted at least $12,000 in bribes.
Ramirez was facing up to five years in prison.
According to published reports, Circuit Court Judge Marie Braxton eschewed jail time in favor of a lighter sentence because she didn’t want to “set someone up for failure.” Braxton said Ramirez, 42, suffered from a lifetime of alcohol abuse, but still was young enough to turn his life around.
She didn’t mince words, though, when assessing Ramirez’s actions.
“There’s no doubt there has been (aspersion) cast upon the Dearborn Police Department,” Braxton said to Ramirez. “What you’ve done is despicable, because we all put trust in police officers.”
The sentencing winds down a fast-paced investigation that began in March when Police Chief Ronald Haddad received a tip from a traffic offender targeted by Ramirez for a bribe.
According to court documents, Ramirez would seek out young ticket recipients with already spotty driving records and, through one of two intermediaries he recruited, solicit a $400 bribe in exchange for getting rid of the ticket.
Authorities believe Ramirez operated the scheme over the course of several years, and when he was arrested police found more than 60 tickets in his car and house. Co-defendant Hassan Hojaije previously received a two-year probation sentence for his role as an intermediary. Isoam Mahmoud Nimer, the other defendant, is believed to have fled the country.
But Ramirez’s sentence came as a disappointment for members of the Police Department who had pushed for jail time and full restitution of the $57,000 in man-hours spent on the case. Braxton’s sentence only requires repayment of $30,000 for the time lead investigator Lt. Mark Tobias spent on the case and $12,000 for lost revenue from the tickets found by investigators.
“We wanted to send a strong message to all police officers,” Tobias said. “He (pleaded) guilty to five felonies, he’s obviously a crook and we felt he definitely deserved to go to jail.”
Department members also were rankled by the fact that Ramirez still will be eligible for annual pension benefits of about $42,000 annually for the rest of his life.
“If it’s an elected official like in the case of Kwame Kilpatrick, you can go after their pension, but not with civil service employees,” Tobias said. “We would have loved to have taken everything considering the nature of this offense, but it isn’t up to us.”