Another building department employee charged with accepting bribes

By J. Patrick Pepper
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A former employee with the city’s now-closed Building and Safety Department is facing criminal charges for allegedly taking cash payments in return for issuing residential building permits.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged Wanda J. Smith, 42, with bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. The charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and up to a $250,000 fine if she is convicted.

According to the complaint, Smith worked in the department’s residential building permits division. Prosecutors allege that in each calendar year starting in 2006 and ending in 2008, she accepted at least $5,000 or more in bribes for falsely issuing work permits.

Also on Wednesday, Smith waived her right to have a grand jury hear the government’s case against her, agreeing to be charged directly by prosecutors instead. A waiver of indictment often signals that a plea deal could be in the works.

Smith was removed from Building and Safety offices, along with documents and computers, during an FBI search in March. She was fired shortly after the incident.

Smith becomes the second department employee charged in connection with a federal corruption probe that began in June 2008, when FBI agents seized several documents and files in an after-hours search of department offices.

In July, former clerk Leticia Bosemon pleaded guilty to accepting more than $63,000 in bribes in exchange for issuing false temporary certificates of occupancy between summer 2006 and June 2008.

Sentencing for Bosemon is scheduled for Dec. 3. She faces a 37-month maximum prison sentence and up to $250,000 in fines.