Detroit police officer sentenced to 80 months in prison for abandoned vehicle towing scheme

A former Detroit Police Department officer was sentenced to about six and a half years, or 80 months in federal prison following convictions for extortion on Tuesday, said Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin.    

Deonne Dotson, 49, was convicted after an 8-day jury trial before United States District Judge Robert H. Cleland. The trial was conducted in November 2019, but Dotson’s sentencing was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dotson accepted bribes from owners and operators of automobile collision shops in exchange for referring stolen and abandoned vehicles recovered in the City of Detroit to their shops.  

The then-police officer created false reports for money from the owners and operators of the same collision shops.  Owners of the vehicles were unaware that Dotson was being paid by the collision shops when they agreed to have their cars fixed by the collision shops.

Five other Detroit Police Officers pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison for committing similar criminal activity while they were Officers with the Detroit Police Department.  

All six officers were actively employed with the Detroit Police Department at the time of the offenses. The other five officers were:  Charles Wills, James Robertson, Jamil Martin, Martin Tutt, and Anthony Careathers.

All of the Officers were charged with engaging in extortion for using their official positions as Police Officers to refer cars to certain collision shops in exchange for cash payments.

"The overwhelming majority of Detroit Police Officers are honest, hard-working, and superb public servants," said Mohsin. "Dotson’s conviction and 80 months’ sentence shows that no one is above the law, and when police officers commit crimes and violate their oath to protect and serve the public, they will be held accountable."

"Mr. Dotson abused his authority as a law enforcement officer by engaging in conduct designed to benefit him personally. His actions are in stark contrast to the professionalism and integrity shown by the Detroit Police Department on a daily basis," said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Detroit Division.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Detroit Police Department and the following agencies from the FBI Detroit Area Corruption Task Force: Michigan State Police and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Professional Responsibility, Investigative Operation Division.