DETROIT — The Detroit-area’s former top drug prosecutor pleaded guilty Wednesday to misconduct in office and agreed to a six-month jail sentence for covering up the role of a paid police informant in a major cocaine bust.
Karen Plants’ guilty plea follows deals with two former Inkster police officers, leaving a retired Wayne County judge to face trial in May.
Plants, who led the drug unit at the Wayne County prosecutor’s office, has acknowledged allowing an informant and others to lie at a 2005 trial about a 103-pound cocaine seizure. She said it was to protect the man’s safety but conceded in 2006 that “allowing false statements is wrong.”
“This was a case where if one person had done the right thing, we wouldn’t be standing here now,” said Plants’ attorney, Ben Gonek. “The police, the prosecutor, the judge, anyone could have corrected this but didn’t. It was a snowball effect of the large quantity of cocaine, the reputation of the target of the investigation as a large dealer with the potential for violence.”
The man charged in the cocaine case, Alexander Aceval, pleaded guilty after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict at his first trial.
Aceval is in prison until at least 2015. He has been trying to wipe out his guilty plea, arguing that misconduct poisoned the entire legal process, but higher courts have not granted him relief.
The informant, Chad Povish, was paid $4,500 and had hoped to get thousands more. He tipped Inkster police to the big stash and was arrested with Aceval to further cover up his role. But when Aceval went to trial, it was never disclosed to the defense or jury.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she would not comment on Plants’ guilty plea until after former Judge Mary Waterstone’s trial. The state attorney general’s office is in charge of the case.
“Jail time was a requirement for us because she was the ringleader in a case that has permanently scarred our criminal justice system,” said John Sellek, spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “This should send the message that no one is above the law, especially those charged with upholding our laws.”
How do you feel about this story? Is this another sign of corruption in Detroit and the way they handle cases? Our experience with the Detroit Prosecutors Office in the Reginald Burks case was not very good. We felt Robert A. Stevens did not seek the truth or care about the evidence. What do you think?