Robert Watson, a Dearborn resident and former city council candidate, is one of seven Detroit building inspectors charged with accepting bribes and may face up to 22 years in prison pending the results of a criminal trial.
Watson and six other inspectors are expected to be arraigned Friday in Detroit’s 36th District Court after law enforcement officials announced the results of a corruption investigation into Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department on Thursday.
Watson is facing two charges of accepting a bribe, and being a public officer who accepted a bribe, a 10-year felony, state Attorney General Bill Schuette announced in a press conference.
The Detroit Free Press reported that six of the seven men had turned themselves in to authorities by Thursday morning. Three are current Detroit employees and four are former employees, including one who retired after the FBI raided city offices on July 2.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI's Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force and the Michigan Attorney General Office’s Public Integrity Unit.
The seven men allegedly accepted bribes of between $200 and $3,000 to ignore violations, not conduct building inspections or failing to submit licensed architect’s drawings.
In a candidate questionnaire Watson submitted to Patch.com prior to the Aug. 6 primary election, the Dearborn resident lists his occupation as a licensed building official and plan reviewer. He is also the chairman of the Dearborn Demolition Board of Appeals.
The other men charged as a result of the investigation include Eric Miller, 48, of Detroit; John Jones, 54, of Detroit; Phillip Lockhart, 56, of Detroit; Kenneth Russ, 51, of Detroit; Moreno Taylor, 53, of Livonia; and Delos Matthews, 54, of Farmington Hills.