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FBI raids main offices of Detroit Public Library, removes files and leaves books

Samantha Schroeder
Contributor

FBI agents raided the Detroit Public Library on Tuesday morning and seized financial records after years of questionable spending, according to law enforcement officials.

At 8 a.m., nine federal agents arrived at the library’s main offices, leaving shortly after 11 a.m. with several cardboard boxes, according to the Detroit News.

Library spokesman A.J. Funchess said agents presented search warrants upon arrival, the newspaper reported, but they didn’t give any additional information.

“I don’t know how many warrants,” Funchess said. “They aren’t really sharing a lot of information right now.”

No one in the Detroit Public Library director’s office was available to comment.

The agents spent a considerable amount of time in the offices of Tim Cromer, chief administrative officer, whose home in West Bloomfield Township was also raided by agents Tuesday. Cromer reportedly is being investigated concerning past spending of library funds.

Judging by that spending, the south wing of the main library apparently needed some swanky upgrades. The many questionable expenditures potentially of interest to FBI officials include “thousand-dollar trash bins,” an anonymous library official told the Detroit Free Press.

The library also bought 20 lounge chairs for $1,100 apiece at the same time it was cutting staff, The Detroit News reports.

“You really can’t justify $1,100 chairs,” said Anthony Adams, who investigated the South Wing spending in 2011. Detroit News exposed the library for its excessive spending in an article last year, including expensive fireplaces, light fixtures, and food vendors.

The mismanagement of money for the Detroit Public Library led to a $10 million deficit and forced the library system to close two branches and lay off 80 of 364 staffers last year, the Detroit News reported.

The FBI raid came at a particularly inopportune time for one patron. Local elderly resident Harriet Mall, who was heading to the library with her family to celebrate her birthday, was photographed in front of the building in the midst of the raid, looking despondent.

“It’s just sad and a big disappointment, but we still love Detroit and we still love the library,” Mall said.

No books were reported as casualties during the police operation.