DETROIT — For nearly three years, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young has secretly maintained a private consulting business with connections to the chief figure in a major scandal in the Detroit Police Department, according to news reports here.
Leasing agents said the offices occupied by Young's business, Detroit Technology & Investments Inc., were used by Kenneth Weiner, a former civilian deputy police chief who is now in jail following charges that he embezzled funds from a secret police department fund used for undercover drug purchases.
The business, never previously revealed by the mayor, had its offices in a building in Detroit's Greektown section owned by a major developer who received significant tax breaks from the city, the Detroit News reported. A leasing agent at the building told the newspaper that Young's business was given free rent, and that the only person who ever used the office was Weiner.
Young, who just began an unprecedented fifth term as mayor of the nation's sixth-largest city, could not be reached for comment Monday. He told reporters over the weekend that he would not discuss his dealings with Detroit Technology, and it remained unclear exactly what kind of consulting work the firm performed. He said it was his "private business," adding that he would not respond to "questioning of my integrity."
But the revelation of a direct connection between Young and Weiner comes after repeated denials by Young that he had any past dealings with the former police official.
It also comes in the midst of both federal and local investigations into the Detroit Police Department's secret million-dollar narcotics fund, which Weiner allegedly tapped for his personal use.
Weiner was allegedly receiving checks written from the narcotics fund at the same time that undercover drug investigations in Detroit were being curtailed for a lack of money to buy drugs. Law enforcement officials here acknowledge that undercover police crews were sometimes forced to buy drugs with their own money because the police department was so short of cash.
Weiner, a former college professor and reputed expert on anti-terrorism, served as civilian deputy police chief until 1986, when a federal investigation of his questionable investment activities in suburban Detroit forced him to resign.
After he left the police department, Weiner apparently created three companies in California that had contracts with the Detroit Police Department--contracts that were paid for through the narcotics fund. Weiner's companies then made at least $72,000 in housing payments over two years on the Beverly Hills home of the daughter of William Hart, Detroit's chief of police. Hart personally controlled the narcotics fund, which was designed to finance drug purchases by undercover police officers working on narcotics investigations.
Weiner, who eluded the FBI and other law enforcement officials for several weeks after reports first surfaced of the alleged embezzlement, was arrested in December and is now in a federal prison in Michigan while a federal grand jury probes his activities and the police department's handling of the fund.
Police Chief Hart, a close friend of the mayor, has denied any wrongdoing. He has also denied any knowledge of Weiner's payments for his daughter's California home. But Young nevertheless took control of the fund away from him.
Previously, Young had been able to distance himself from Weiner and the spreading police scandal, arguing that he had little or no contact with Weiner.