Circle of lies
Perjury and its consequences a Wayne County court
Published: April 20, 2011
It has been more than six years since the day in March 2005 when Inkster cops, acting on a tip from a paid confidential informant, pulled over a beat-up Oldsmobile that had more than 100 pounds of cocaine stashed in a pair of black duffle bags sitting in the trunk.
The bust was one of the largest in state history, with authorities claiming the drugs had a value of $27 million. But the magnitude of that seizure is not why the case still continues to generate headlines so many years later.
Two men — Alexander Aceval and Richard Pena — were sent to prison for their roles in the drug operation. But the story of those drug dealers has taken a back bench to that of four people who have all run afoul of the law each had sworn to uphold.
Two police officers, an assistant Wayne County prosecutor and a judge have all paid a price for their roles in a case that sets a precedent when it comes to bizarre legal proceedings.
The cops — now former cops — have each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offence connected to lies the state Attorney General's office says they told while under oath on the witness stand. One of them, Scott Rechtzigel, is serving a 90-day sentence in the Wayne County Jail. The other, Robert McArthur, is expected to receive the same punishment.
Also in jail is Karen Plants, the former head of the drug unit in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. She was sentenced to six months behind bars for playing a key role in what one attorney has called a conspiracy to present false evidence to the juries that were originally supposed to decide the fates of Aceval and Pena.
Former Judge Mary Waterstone, who retired at the end of 2006, is the only one of the four officials not to accept a plea deal. Having had three of the four counts originally lodged against her dismissed, she is hoping to have the state Court of Appeals strike down the fourth charge as well. If that attempt fails, she is scheduled to go on trial in June.
It's possible there could be more fallout. David Moffitt, an attorney for Aceval who has pushed hard for the past six years to hold all the officials involved in this case accountable, wrote to the Attorney Grievance Commission in April 2008 asking for an investigation of Prosecutor Kym Worthy. The prosecutor, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, declined to be interviewed for this story. Because the Grievance Commission actions remain confidential unless formal charges are brought, it is unknown at this point whether the commission agrees she did nothing wrong or is waiting for all the court cases related to this issue be settled before it decides on further action.
There's one person integral to this story: the guy who sat at the wheel of that Oldsmobile the day it was pulled over late in the winter of 2005.
His name is Chad Povish, a Downriver floor-covering installer who decided to make some extra money by becoming an informant for the Inkster Police Department.
Contained in the voluminous court files associated with all this is his account of what happened.
From Povish's point off view, what he'd hoped would end with a big payoff instead turned into a "nightmare" that has him still fearing for his life as a result of his identity being disclosed.
The story begins with him.
A deal goes down
At one point in his life, Chad Povish had given some thought to becoming a police officer. Instead, he went to work installing carpet.
That is how he first met Inkster Police Officer Robert McArthur.
As Povish told three members of the state Attorney General's Office in a sworn deposition conducted in September 2008, "I've actually met Bob McArthur years ago before this case doing floor covering."
They met again by chance years later when Povish ran into a mutual friend having lunch with McArthur. The friend, named Dean, was talking with McArthur about confidential informants, and what they do, when Dean suggested that Povish "would be really good" at the job. So McArthur gave him a call.
"I knew who Bob McArthur was and everything," Povish said. "He was a good guy."
The call came sometime in 2004. (As the interview with the men from the AG's Office proceeded, it became readily apparent that Povish's memory is far from stellar.)
McArthur explained to Povish that he would get paid to do undercover buys, and that he would get 10 percent of any assets seized in the event of an arrest.
Sometimes, instead of receiving cash, Povish would be given a seized vehicle instead. He told the investigators that he'd picked out three or four vehicles from the impound lot, which he would then resell.
The two worked together for about six months before the deal involving Aceval and Pena came down.
In none of those cases was he ever required to testify against the people who'd been busted. None of the cases were particularly big ones; at the most those deals involved no more than an ounce of cocaine, Povish said.
Then, sometime around the start of 2005, he began hearing about some major drug deals allegedly being done by a Farmington Hills businessman named Alexander Aceval.
This source of that information was Bryan Hill, a guy Povish described as his best friend. They installed floors together. But Hill, to earn some extra money, began working at a downriver bar called J-Dubs, which Aceval owned. Without Hill knowing that his friend was a paid snitch, Povish mined him for information, which he would relay to McArthur.
On the morning of March 11, 2005, Povish was having breakfast at his friend Hill's place when Aceval came by. Povish left, but, shortly afterward, was called and offered $10,000 to do a job. A load of cocaine was on its way from Texas, and was due to arrive J-Dubs soon. Someone was needed to drive the drugs to their next destination, an unspecified spot in the metro area.
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