Duggan asks police to investigate businessesman's threats

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday he's asking police to investigate Detroit businessman Robert Carmack’s threats against him and his family.

"The events of the last week are making it appear that Bob Carmack is now threatening furthering embarrassment in my personal life in order to force me to take actions that are harmful to the citizens of the city of Detroit," he said.

On Monday, Duggan announced he asked the Michigan State Police to open investigation into the threats made against Duggan.

Auto shop owner Robert Carmack claims the city and Mayor Duggan tore down one of his buildings and are trying to evict him from another to punish him for being outspoken about public corruption. Carmack has filed a lawsuit seeking access to security camera recordings from the Manoogian mansion and records relating to the mayor's police security team.

He has asked for a lot of information, and the city is asking him for a lot of money to review that material before releasing it. Carmack's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit claims that the real reason for the hefty legal bill is because the city wants to cover up that the mayor and his family do not live in the Manoogian mansion.

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Carmack also says the city is trying to hide records that would prove his allegation that the mayor is having an affair and that the mayor's son throws parties at the mansion, which is the city's official mayoral residence.

Duggan and his wife had released a statement saying that Carmack hired private investigators to follow Duggan without his knowledge for several months. 

In a press conference Monday, Duggan said in 2007, Carmack, through a company he owned, proposed buying a 10-acre parcel of land on Melville Avenue from the City of Detroit for $250,000. On June 20, 2007, Detroit City Council approved the sale, so the law department sent Carmack the documents to complete the sale, requiring him to pay the $250,000 and sign the documents. He says in 2007, Carmack walked away and the sale was not completed, the land is still in city ownership.

The mayor says a lawsuit filed by the city alleges that in 2016, Carmack took the old document from the proposed 2007 and used them to fraudulently misrepresent that he owned the property. He then sold the city property to an out-of-state investor and pocketed $1 million, Duggan says.

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Becoming aware of the incident, Duggan says the law department filed a lawsuit against Carmack on June 1, 2018, and that's when Carmack's private investigators began following him, looking for embarrassing information to use against Duggan, he says.

Duggan says he learned of the situation after Carmack acquaintance's told a member of Duggan's management team that Carmack was angry over the lawsuit and hired investigators to follow Duggan and take video, including Duggan visiting a condo in Oakland County in Warren.

According to the mayor, Carmack himself called city corporation counsel Lawrence Garcia on Nov. 7, demanding the city settle the outstanding million-dollar litigation, as well as settle a second lawsuit related to 8107 Michigan Avenue, even though the circuit court in that case had already ruled in favor of the city. Carmack demanded both be settled in his favor and that he not be required to pay anything, Duggan says.

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Duggan says Garcia told Carmack that would not happen. Days later, Carmack released an edited video, showing Duggan's car going to the condo, he says.

"The message was clear. We didn't drop the city's cases, and Carmack dropped the bomb. In the last week, the threats against me and my family to release even more embarrassing information has intensified. We have received multiple warnings from people telling us that Carmack is threatening to release further surveillance information and that he specifically promised it would cause my wife Lori great pain," Duggan said.

The mayor says he's received messages from Carmack's associates saying the situation could be avoided by meeting with Carmack. He says an associate called saying he had Carmack on the line to talk, but the city declined, taking the position that conversations needed to be done with attorneys on both sides present.

Duggan says a Carmack associate then told them embarrassing information against the mayor would be released this coming Wednesday. He says that's when they went to police. While it would typically fall under the Detroit police's jurisdiction, Duggan says he asked for MSP to avoid the possibility of any conflict of interest.

"This is a terrible situation. I have to choose between protecting the interests of the city or protecting my family," Duggan said. "I had some long conversations this weekend with my family and they're fully supporting my decision but the mayor of Detroit has got to put the interests of the people first. No matter how painful the consequences may be, I am not going to give in to these threats."

When asked what Wednesday's threats could be, Duggan says he's not sure.

"The more embarrassing it is, the more important it is that I come out upfront and say to the people of Detroit that I’ll deal with the embarrassment but I won’t do something that’s harmful to the residents,” Duggan said. “I have no idea what it might be but I felt like I needed to stand up and say I don’t care what it is. We’re not going to give in to the threat.”