Billionaire Bridge Owner Sent to the Brig
DETROIT — Manuel Moroun, billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge, along with president Dan Stamper, were jailed Thursday for the company’s failure to complete a project with the State Department of Transportation.
Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards found the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) had avoided fulfilling its contract to help build ramps connecting two freeways to the bridge.
Moroun's lawyers argued that he is not the real owner of the bridge, but state officials said that Moroun is in charge, and the judge agreed.
Moroun and Stamper immediately resigned from the company, but the panel of three judges weren't convinced by the last minute move.
Back in February 2010, Edwards ordered new connections to freeways for trucks exiting the bridge from Canada be built as per agreements with the state government under the $230-million Michigan Gateway Project.
That project was to ensure that trucks would avoid using local roads in Detroit, but in November of 2011, a state engineer said the bridge company has only done "superficial" work since the judge's previous order, and that trucks are still using local roads to get onto freeways.
Judge Edwards also ordered the company to pay $7,500, the maximum under state law for civil contempt, as well as the state's legal fees.
According to ABC News, Judge Edwards said that "Mr. Moroun has the power, the authority to make sure there is compliance."
Matthew Moroun, the bridge's vice-president, called the case "excessive, unwarranted and outrageous."
"This entire legal process has clearly become a personal vendetta by the judge against these individuals," he wrote in a statement.
Moroun and Stamper were ordered to stay behind bars until the company can produce physical evidence that it is in compliance.
The next hearing is on Feb. 9, when the court will assess the merits of that compliance. Edwards said that Matthew Moroun must also appear in court that day.
For more details on the story check out The Detroit Free Press.