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Another contractor pleads guilty to bilking Detroit taxpayers for $1M

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(The Center Square) – A Detroit man pleaded no contest to defrauding the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program and the city of Detroit more than $1 million related to house demolitions.

David Holman, 48, of Metamora, pleaded no contest to one felony count of false pretenses, $1,000-$20,000.

Holman’s plea accompanies a sentencing agreement requesting he serve a term of probation, complete 100 hours of community service and pay $1.2 million of the restitution to the City of Detroit on or before his sentencing date in April.

Holman is the second defendant to plea in this matter, following a guilty plea from David MacDonald, 51, of Howell, in January with the same criminal scheme.

MacDonald pleaded guilty to one felony count of false pretenses, $1,000-$20,000, alongside a sentencing agreement that he serves probation, complete 100 hours of community service and pay restitution.

MacDonald and Holman are liable to Detroit for more than $4 million in total restitution.

In 2023, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged Holman with 12 felonies and MacDonald with 11 felonies including conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony, for fraudulently billing Detroit for backfill material and for using unapproved backfill material containing potential contaminants at residential locations in Detroit.

Holman owned Den-Man Contractors and employed MacDonald to lead the company’s demolition program that was awarded more than $12 million of demolition contracts with Detroit between 2017 and 2019. The company said it would backfill the sites of demolished properties with dirt from approved sources.

Den-Man received free, contaminated dirt and received $1.14 million of reimbursement from the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

Detroit has incurred more than $3.5 million to test and remediate the Den-Man sites.

About 87 of those properties have failed testing standards for contaminants, while 51 residential properties remain untested.

“This scam was not only an attack on public funds and the city of Detroit, but upon vulnerable neighborhoods now left plagued with contaminated lots; all to line the pockets of greedy criminal contractors,” Nessel said in a statement. “I appreciate the investigative efforts of the SIGTARP team, the Detroit Office of Inspector General, and those of my department’s prosecutors for bringing this destructive scheme into the open, and its operators to justice.”

Melissa Bruce, SIGTARP principal deputy inspector general welcomed the charges.

“These investigations originated from the reviews of the Detroit HHF demolitions, to ensure that there was compliance with the program contractual requirements,” Bruce said in a statement. “Contractors are required to adhere to all contracts, State and Federal laws and regulations and must use safe and approved backfill materials and substantiate backfill costs which are critical to ensuring TARP funds are properly spent for the public’s safety and per program requirements.”

MacDonald will be sentenced by Judge Keifer Cox in the 3rd Circuit Court on March 15.

Holman will be sentenced by Judge Mariam Bazzi in the 3rd Circuit Court on April 12.

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