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Former Madison Heights school board president charged with taking bribes

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Federal investigators have charged a former Madison Heights school board president with taking bribes.

The ongoing FBI investigation into Metro Detroit public corruption has snagged a former school district official accused of accepting bribes.

Albert Morrison was school board president of Madison District Public Schools in Madison Heights. An indictment says he and a longtime friend were co-conspirators in a pay-to-play scheme involving school repair contracts.

It alleges that Morrison corruptly steered contracts to his friend's company, designating needed repairs as emergencies to bypass competitive bidding. The friend got more than $3 million in contracts between 2014 and 2018, and Morrison allegedly got more than $500,000 in kickbacks paid to a consulting company he owned.

Prosecutors say Morrison spent the money on “personal luxuries,” such as Florida vacations and a boat slip. He also publicly denied any personal connection to the contractor's business when confronted about it during a 2017 school board meeting. Morrison served as board president until December 2018.

In addition to conspiracy to commit bribery, Morrison also faces tax evasion and other charges, as does the contractor. Morrison’s court-appointed lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The FBI’s investigation into corruption in southeast Michigan has netted more than 100 public officials charged with wrongdoing. Morrison is the first school official to face charges stemming from that investigation.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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