Now that the infamous Dino Bucci has issued a resignation letter that will end his reign as an elected Macomb Township board member — a year after being hit with 18 criminal indictments by the feds — it’s important to take a look back at this guy’s BS job that he held in county government.
Bucci’s multi-count indictment came a year ago at the height of the Macomb County corruption scandal, with FBI charges ranging from extortion and money laundering to bribery and embezzlement involving public contracts.
Until now, Bucci, who was re-elected by Macomb Township voters in 2016 as the first charges were coming to light, had refused to surrender his position and salary on the township board, though he had not shown up for a board meeting in about one year.
What’s important to remember is that Bucci was summarily ousted as the county’s deputy public works commissioner by the new public works commissioner, Candice Miller, when she took office in January 2017.
Prior job was selling rented tuxedos
A former tuxedo salesman, Bucci served as the right-hand man for former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Tony Marrocco, who was known as the “godfather” of Macomb politics for a quarter century until voters ousted him two years ago.
Based on the FBI portrait of Bucci among the indictments filed in federal court, for more than two decades he never held a real job at Marrocco’s office, other than as the enforcer, the “bag man,” in what appeared to be a pay-to-play, Mafia-style operation within the bowels of Marrocco’s public works office from 1993 to 2016.
The following is a reprint of a 2012 story I wrote for The Macomb Daily, though the pay figures for Bucci were later updated by the Daily as a second Freedom Of Information (FOIA) request found that he had received $61,000 in overtime pay over a 5-year period just prior to his ouster.
By Chad Selweski
June 17, 2012
Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco’s unsuccessful attempt to secure $14,000 raises for three of his employees included the manager of engineering, who is paid $75,000 though he is not an engineer and has no college degree.
According to details secured under the Freedom Of Information Act, Dino Bucci, the operations manager of the engineering department has no previous engineering experience and attends to job duties unrelated to engineering work. Yet, he is one of the highest-paid employees on Marrocco’s staff.
Bucci’s job was repairs at a 4-year-old building
Marrocco said Bucci is in charge of maintenance at the public works department’s office building in Clinton Township, which opened in 2008, to ensure that the plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling and boiler are in working order. If problems are found at the 18,000-square-foot building, Bucci notifies a contractor or the in-house county building trades workers about repairs that are needed.
A 20-year employee, Bucci’s salary, which Marrocco tried to boost to $89,000 in March and April, is defended by his boss.
“I’m not an engineer. Not everybody here is an engineer. The guy who is the head of the Health Department is not a doctor,” said Marrocco, a Clinton Township Democrat.
In fact, Marrocco said one of his employees in the Engineering II job category, Kelly Kaufman, has been employed by the public works office since April 1986 – prior to Marrocco’s initial election – and has no engineering degree.
That’s part of the legacy left by former public works commissioner Tom Welsh. When Marrocco first took office in January 1993, he said, three of five people with a particular engineer title lacked an engineering degree.
The public works office oversees numerous water and sewer lines in Macomb and thousands of miles of drains that criss-cross the county. They also provide services such as soil erosion-prevention inspections and permits at each housing construction site.
The FOIA response to The Macomb Daily, provided by the county’s chief legal counsel, George Brumbaugh, indicated that Bucci filled out a county job application in 1999 on which he admitted that he attended – but did not graduate – from Albion College. The FOIA material indicates that he had some background in construction, working for a family business.
But Bucci said in an interview that he was hired by Marrocco just after the public works commissioner was first elected in 1992, though his previous experience consisted of working for another family business that rented tuxedos.
Bucci said he began as a temporary soil erosion inspector then gained certification that led to his promotion to public works property manager. That post entailed oversight of appraisals of strips of land that were purchased as easements for sewer/water projects, sometimes through the condemnation process.
Overseeing a closed park and a tiny building
When he became operations manager for engineering, that meant keeping tabs on the public works office, as well as any basic maintenance problems that might arise at Freedom Hill Park in Sterling Heights – closed for several years, soon to re-open — and the Chapaton sewage retention basin in St. Clair Shores.
“I work in the engineering department for the chief engineer,” said Bucci, who also serves as an elected trustee on the Macomb Township board. “I do what’s needed to keep this (office) building functioning.”
The proposed $14,000 raise for Bucci, a 19 percent hike, was promoted by Marrocco as a reward for additional duties and responsibilities. According to Bucci, that referred to his upcoming requirement to keep tabs on a small, obscure building in Clinton Township, the Clinton Pump Station, which is being renovated and expanded by 845 square feet. The work will not be completed until 2015.
Bucci said he dropped out of college when his father became ill and never went back for his degree.
Marrocco’s request for pay hikes for three staffers and himself was controversial within the public works office, with County Executive Mark Hackel, and at the Board of Commissioners. The commissioners initially accepted the raises, then later reversed themselves. Marrocco’s staff claims Hackel did the same.
Because he is one of three management employees who belong to a union, Bucci earns time-and-a-half overtime pay in addition to his $75,105 salary. He offered no firm figures on OT pay, estimating that his overtime wages amount to somewhere between 5 percent and 25 percent above his full salary.
“My job is to make sure these buildings are functioning, and if that requires overtime, so be it,” said Bucci, a member of UAW Local 412.
The FOIA response from the county said that the five non-union management employees at the public works department have pay scales with maximum salaries between $54,867 and $100,296. Not all make the maximum.
The lowest-paid is wastewater services manager Mark Steenbergh, the former Warren mayor, whose hire last fall raised some eyebrows due to his lack of experience in the sewage business. The FOIA material said the chief engineer of wastewater services, Jim Pistilli, is also paid $54,846. Brumbaugh followed up a week later with a correction indicating that Pistilli’s maximum salary is actually $100,296.
It should also be noted that Pistilli, after he left Marrocco’s public works department, pleaded guilty in 2017 to funneling bribes to a public official in his role as an engineering consultant.