By Charles Sercombe
The Whistleblower lawsuit filed by Department of Public Works Director Steve Shaya keeps growing.
Shaya has added two amendments to his original lawsuit filed last April. The initial lawsuit named two police officers, Police Chief Max Garbarino and two former acting city managers.
The latest version added two city employees and City Councilmember Andrea Karpinski.
Shaya alleges that he had been wrongly accused of a hit-and-run accident and that various city officials and employees used derogatory language against him, namely ethnic slurs.
One acting city manager called him a “Chaldean prince,” Shaya says in his lawsuit.
He also accuses city officials of harassing him.
The accusation of the hit-and-run accident came after he accused a Hamtramck police officer of operating a tow service on his own time for a fellow officer working for the Drug Enforcement Agency. Shaya says this was an ethical violation.
Shaya also accuses city officials and employees of disparaging various ethnic groups in the city, groups which Shaya said he had defended.
In his lawsuit Shaya describes himself as someone who cares and listens to the concerns of the city’s ethnic communities.
Shaya said Abraham El-Jahaim, of the Hamtramck Arabic Outreach, calls Shaya the “red line for our Muslim community.”
Shaya also accuses one acting city manager of telling two Public Works employees to falsely implicate him of ordering them to illegally dump debris.
He further accused a Water Department employee of initiating the shutoff of water service to a house his sister owns, even though she did not owe the city money.
As for Councilmember Karpinski, he claimed that she dressed in black one day to take photos of his city-issued vehicle while it was parked at his house after he had been accused of a hit-and-run accident involving a retired Detroit police officer. Shaya accuses Karpinski of going on his property without permission.
Shaya is no stranger to accusations of ethical wrongdoing. Back in 2002 when he was employed by then-Emergency Financial Manager Louis Schimmel, a police officer accused him of using Public Works employees on city time to help renovate a rental house he owned.
Shaya denied that accusation.
Shaya was soon after suspended briefly after it came to light he was a convicted felon but had failed to tell anyone. Schimmel didn’t fire Shaya but instead eliminated his position.
Shaya had been convicted of defrauding someone of over $20,000 for a demolition job he had performed. He was ordered to pay back $80,500 and given a jail sentence.
Asked recently if he had cleared up that charge or had it expunged, Shaya told The Review: “Would I be working here? Would I pass a police background check?”
He referred further questions on the matter to his former attorney Richard Lustig.
Lustig is now retired and did not return a call for comment. According to a June 2006 document with the State Court of Appeals, which is available for view online, Shaya lost his second request for a retrial in Wayne County Circuit Court.
The court said in its refusal: “The elements of a crime were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Shaya was later rehired by the city in 2012 after working as a consultant here for several months.
Curiously, in his job application to the city in July of 2012, which The Review obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, he wrote “n/a” in the box where it asked if the applicant was convicted of a crime more serious than a misdemeanor.
The abbreviation “n/a” commonly denotes one of several meanings, including “not applicable,” “not available,” or “no answer.”
William Cooper, who was city manager at the time of Shaya’s hiring in 2012, told The Review in a recent telephone interview that he did a background check on Shaya and that no felony conviction appeared.