By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Two public employees face up to 20 years in prison for allegedly operating a sports gambling ring while on the job.
Trenton Department of Public Works employee Kevin Sargent, 35, and Flat Rock Police Sergeant Charles Sanders Jr., 46, were arraigned Wednesday in 33rd District Court, and await a preliminary hearing next month.
City officials said the arrest left staff and friends surprised.
“This caught his fellow employees and City Hall staff off guard,” City Administrator Jim Wagner said, noting that Sargent is well respected among those who know him.
The charges follow a year-long investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Public safety officials who break the law and use taxpayer resources to do it will be brought to justice,” Schuette said. “We will hold corrupt officials accountable, wherever they are found.”
Sargent and Sanders allegedly ran an illegal betting operation during work hours. Sargent primarily collected bets by phone— while at work — placed on college and pro football games; Sanders served as the bank and handled cash collections and payments while on duty.
Schuette said, allegedly, on at least one occasion Sanders collected bets while sitting in a Flat Rock police squad car.
Both men were charged with one count of racketeering, or conducting a criminal enterprise, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and 14 counts of illegal sports betting.
Sanders also faces two counts of misconduct in office, and was reportedly placed on unpaid leave by the department.
Wagner said that Sargent took personal time last week, and that an internal investigation was being conducted.
“We are trying to ascertain if any policies or work rules were violated,” Wagner said. Once the investigation is complete, city administrators will meet with legal counsel and employee union representatives.
A preliminary exam before 33rd District Court Judge James K. Kersten is scheduled for Feb. 24, according to court records.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])