Judge orders Ambassador Bridge owner to jail

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/13/2012

The billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Manuel “Matty” Moroun, and president of the bridge company, Dan Stamper, were still behind bars on Friday, Jan. 13. Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards said the pair would remain there until they complied with a previous court order to complete the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project in accordance with the law.

The Ambassador Bridge, owned by Moroun’s Detroit River International Bridge Co., is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing, carrying 8,000 commercial trucks and 68,000 travelers per day between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The company was, according to the Gateway Project, supposed to connect the Ambassador Bridge with major roadways in an effort to take border traffic off city streets and ease congestion. For years, the company defied orders from city, county and state officials. Moroun’s company even went so far as to build a fueling station and toll booths on publicly owned land.

Judge Edwards issued a court order on Feb. 1, 2010, for the company to remove the illegal buildings and complete the access ramps or face contempt charges. Holding to his word, Edwards handed down contempt charges against Moroun and Stamper in November 2011.

Jail time was the next step, according to Edwards, who can be heard in a courtroom video by the Detroit Free Press ordering Moroun and Stamper to be incarcerated until they comply with the previous court order.

Edwards announced another court date for Feb. 9 but gave no indication about how long Moroun and Stamper would remain behind bars.

As could be expected, Moroun’s attorneys scrambled for an appeal.

“The Michigan Court of Appeals denied the emergency appeal for their release pending the appeal of Judge Edwards’ decision,” company spokesman Al Upchurch told “Land Line Now” on Friday.

Upchurch said he had not spoken with Moroun or Stamper directly since the ruling.

According to media reports, Moroun and Stamper are roommates in a 15-foot by 10-foot cell in a special wing of the Wayne County Jail.

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