By Kathy Jessup
The Kalamazoo Gazette
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The FBI is conducting an investigation of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
Assistant City Manager Fay Peek said this morning he has been asked to secure all evidence related to a 2003 prostitution investigation and sting operation. Details of the FBI investigation were not released; City Manager Kenneth Collard last week called for federal investigators to look at the local case.
Phone calls to the FBI's Detroit office and to U.S. Attorney Charles Gross seeking comment were not returned this morning.
Acting City Attorney Randall S. Schau confirmed that the FBI would investigate in a letter to the Kalamazoo Gazette in which he denied the disclosures of four Freedom of Information Act requests made by the newspaper. Schau said the release of the information the Gazette sought "would interfere with law enforcement proceedings, both internally and that presently being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Each of the Gazette's FOIA requests was linked to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's handling of the prostitution investigation.
In that case, a sergeant assigned to the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team was sent back to Public Safety duty and suspended for three days, in part for having unauthorized sexual contact with the woman under investigation.
An FBI agent suspected of being personally involved with the woman and as many as six other women on an Internet prostitution ring was allowed to resign. Records obtained by the Gazette indicate that that agent was under KVET surveillance for allegedly threatening the woman and may have compromised the local investigation.
The Gazette's denied FOIA requests had sought the results of police analysis of computers seized from the suspected call girl's apartment. Also denied were receipts for expenses the city paid "to maintain" the woman after police raided her apartment; a "mutual covenant and release" listed on a city-provided inventory of the material officers seized during the June 2003 raid; and copies of audio tapes from interviews with suspects and informants in the case.
Schau said he's been advised there are two receipts for expenses the city paid to maintain the woman after the bust. But he released no information on the nature of those expenses or their amounts and said their release "would interfere with law enforcement proceedings" under way by the city and the FBI.
Schau also said no previously unreleased reports by any other officers who were part of the operation exist.
In addition, Schau said the city was unaware of a June 18, 2003, search affidavit that Kalamazoo County Chief District Judge Richard Santoni said he had received in connection with the prostitution investigation. That document would have preceded by one day the signed search warrant officers used to enter and take evidence from the suspect's Texas Township apartment on June 19, 2003.
An affidavit spells out who and where officers want to search, what they're looking for, and the evidence they have to believe that prostitution may have been occurring.
Details surrounding Santoni's claim that there was additional June 18, 2003, paperwork are unclear. They add another wrinkle to a controversial case in which police said other officers and attorneys may have been included among the woman's clients, evidence was mishandled or may be missing, an undercover officer received oral sex from the suspect, and no charges were ever filed.
Since the Gazette launched investigations into the case and the city's FOIA practices, former City Attorney A. Lee Kirk announced his immediate retirement, Public Safety Chief Dan Weston said he'll retire in December 2008, and Maj. Ken Colby, the department's No. 3 administrator and head of internal affairs, abruptly resigned last week.
A fourth personnel change is expected to be announced this week, according to Collard.
Copyright 2007 The Kalamazoo Gazette
FBI investigation Mich. police bureau