Bridge Owner Moroun Joins International Lineup of Billionaires Behind Bars


By Chris Christoff

Manuel “Matty” Moroun was led from a Detroit courtroom yesterday into rare company: billionaires who have gone to jail.

The owner of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Canada, was jailed for missing a court’s deadlines to build new bridge approaches. He has been in a two-year dispute with the state over the $230 million project’s design.

“It’s unusual to see an 84-year-old billionaire carted off to jail,” said Larry Dubin, law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy. “It’s not your usual person found in civil contempt. It’s usually someone who doesn’t have enough money to make child-support payments.”

Moroun’s 82-year-old bridge is a source of controversy in Michigan. He spent $4.7 million on a campaign with television advertising against a state plan to build a second Detroit- Canada bridge about two miles downstream, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The new span would siphon off truck traffic from Moroun’s property. The plan, pushed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, died in a Republican-controlled state Senate committee in October.

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