‘Many of the issues that we encounter in other parts of society, we encounter here. However, there is a difference, because we are held to a much higher code of conduct.’
— Police Chief Ronald Haddad
By J. Patrick Pepper
DEARBORN — The city’s Police Department took a major image hit when two of its own were arraigned on several felony charges in unrelated incidents March 6. Cpl. Alex Ramirez, a 20-year veteran, appeared before 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers on charges of embezzlement and bribery by a public official, misconduct in office, larceny from a building, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in an alleged traffic ticket-fixing scheme. Somers ordered Ramirez held on a $50,000 cash bond and required him to wear a tether if he posts bond. Dearborn resident Hassan Hojaije, 20, a co-defendant, also was charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and bribery of a public official. Hojaije, who is a civilian, faces a maximum sentence of 10 1/2 years in prison and was released on $20,000 personal surety.
Hojaije indicated at his arraignment that he would be cooperating with police in their investigation. Both men had preliminary examinations of the evidence against them scheduled for Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court, but the hearings occurred after the Times-Herald’s deadline. According to a statement released by the city, a complaint from a resident led to the investigation and subsequent arrest of the defendants on March 4. It is unclear from court documents what the alleged scheme entailed, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad declined to comment on the specifics due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. But at Ramirez’s arraignment, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Donaldson said preliminary findings indicate the scheme included the removal from the department of at least 70 traffic tickets that carried an average fine of $100. As the investigation unfolds, he said, the total assessed fines of the missing tickets could total in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” In the other incident, 15-year veteran Cpl. Gino Soave was arraigned in 40th District Court in St. Clair Shores on three felony charges stemming from allegedly underreporting the purchase price of a 54-foot boat dubbed the Bada Bing V.
By underreporting the $285,000 sales prices of the boat as $77,000, Soave saved $12,000 in taxes, prosecutors allege.
Soave, 42, of Dearborn Heights, was arraigned on one count of forgery, a 14-year felony; one count of uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; and one count of tax fraud, a five-year felony. He was freed on personal bond.
Michigan State Police took Soave into custody at the Dearborn police station with cooperation from city police.
When asked if there were any inquiries into how Soave, on a police officer’s salary, could afford a $285,000 boat, Haddad said, “We know of no misdeeds (at the department),” but added, “I think when the case is laid out, the facts will be readily apparent.”
Over the last five years the department has been rocked by several incidents of proven or alleged officer misconduct. Haddad, who was hired in November, said he was aware of the problems when he accepted the job and plans to deal with future situations quickly and decisively.
“Unfortunately we derive our employees from society,” Haddad said, “and many of the issues that we encounter in other parts of society, we encounter here.
“However, there is a difference, because we are held to a much higher code of conduct. So anytime we have a breach of that standard, I think the community should know that we will deal with them in a very swift but responsible manner.”