DETROIT — Ex-Macomb County, Michigan, Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco received an unusual sentence last month in a yearslong, widespread federal corruption probe.
U.S. Judge Robert Cleland sentenced him to three months in prison, 450 days of home detention at his Ray Township residence and a $50,000 fine after Marrocco pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion.
The twists come in the conditions of what Cleland called at sentencing a “blackout” while Marrocco, 74, is in home detention — no entertainment and other conditions “intended to replicate the conditions of confinement.”
The seven-page judgment in Marrocco’s case, filed March 24 in federal court, yielded a few other interesting tidbits for when he is on home detention in a list of “special conditions of supervision.”
Marrocco is not permitted to use the golf-related facilities nearby his residence.
He may not host any meals, parties or celebratory events of any kind. No streaming TV. Visitors — who must be approved by authorities — are prohibited from bringing into his home any entertainment facilities or equipment.
Robert Sedler, a retired law professor at Wayne State University for more than 40 years, said home confinement is “very different than imprisonment.”
“It is a break,” he said.
‘Special conditions of supervision’
The order includes a full page of “special conditions of supervision” with details of home detention.
During the first 450 days of supervised release, Marrocco is restricted to his Michigan residence except for scheduled religious services, preapproved medical or mental health treatment, preapproved attorney consultation, court appearances, court-ordered obligations or other preapproved activities.
The document states home detention is intended to be “sufficiently punitive.” That means the home must be “rendered devoid of entertainment facilities. Such facilities include television, ‘smart’ or ‘streaming’ TV. Reading materials are not prohibited entertainment facilities. You are not permitted to use the golf-related facilities nearby your residence.”
When Marrocco was seeking reelection in 2016, he was part owner of two golf courses.
While on home detention, Marrocco will be monitored by GPS for 360 days and per the judgment: “you must not access the internet or use or possess any electronic devices capable of connecting to the internet. This includes any broadcast television or on-line ‘streaming,’ or other access to televised entertainment of any kind.”
Where will Marrocco be imprisoned?
Cleland recommended to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that Marrocco be assigned to the federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida. The minimum-security camp in Pensacola has 329 inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
Marrocco’s attorney Steve Fishman made that request of Cleland during the March 16 sentencing in federal court in Port Huron because Marrocco’s family lives in Florida and he has a home there.
Marrocco is to surrender at the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons on or after June 15.
Marrocco’s internet activity will be monitored
He will be on supervised release for two years after being released. A drug testing condition is suspended based on the court’s determination that he poses a low risk of substance abuse, and he must cooperate in the collection of DNA as directed by the probation officer, according to the judgment.
He has to participate in the computer/internet monitoring program administered by probation and submit himself, his residence, computer and/or vehicle to a search. And he must inform other residents that the premises may be subject to a search.
Marrocco also will have to provide the probation officer with access to any requested financial information, including billing records (such as telephone, cable, internet and satellite). He can’t “incur new credit card charges or open additional lines of credit without advanced approval of the probation officer,” per the judgment.
Sentencing ‘interesting and unusual’
Fishman previously cited Marrocco’s age, medical problems and the nature of offense in urging that his client not be jailed. Prosecutors argued for prison time, saying Marrocco was getting a reduced sentence per his plea deal.
U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a news release the day of the sentencing that “(a)lthough we are disappointed in the length of the court’s sentence, through Marrocco’s conviction for extortion, he will no longer be able to demand obedience and respect from the district’s citizens.”
Gina Balaya, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, said Thursday “we are letting the judgment speak for itself.”
“I thought it was an interesting and unusual sentence,” Fishman said immediately after Marrocco left the courthouse on the day of sentencing. “I’ve never had one quite like that, where there was the connection between going to camp and then having home confinement for that length, but we’ll figure it out.”
Fishman also said that day that he “didn’t know that all those conditions, about you can’t be on the internet or all that stuff. I mean, I have no idea how that’s gonna work.” Asked if Marrocco would meet the conditions, Fishman said “you don’t have any choice but to meet ’em. The judge imposes them and you know, you gotta do it.”
Fishman had no additional comment Thursday.
With a loss of liberty comes conditions
Longtime criminal defense lawyer Stephen Rabaut, who represented Dino Bucci, Marrocco’s former right-hand man and a former Macomb Township trustee who died before he was sentenced in the corruption probe, said the conditions are unusual.
Rabaut said he believes Cleland is trying to make Marrocco’s home like a prison setting. The conditions “do not let (Marrocco) have all the enjoyment he wants at home.”
“I will say federal probation, they’re very good at what they do, and they do monitor stuff. They can go into his home at any time. They can access a person’s computers and things like that or access any media stuff to see has it been utilized, has it been used, things like that,” Rabaut said. “Is it perfect? Of course it’s not. But they do have some means to monitor it.”
“I think if somebody wants to take a chance with that, that’s up to them,” he said of an attempt to get around a condition. “But that’s not a chance that I would necessarily take myself, because if he crosses the line, this judge is going to respond to it.”
Sedler said the conditions don’t violate Marrocco’s constitutional rights.
“He has been convicted and suffers a loss of liberty. With a loss of liberty, there are a lot of conditions,” he said, adding that Marrocco will have to report to a probation officer periodically.
“The person will be advised by his lawyer: If you don’t follow the conditions and you’re caught, your home confinement can be changed to imprisonment or your probation can be revoked and you can be sent back to prison,” Sedler said.