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Former Detroit U.S. Attorney Roy Hayes Dies at 73

Roy Hayes

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– Roy C. (Joe) Hayes was one of those U.S. Attorneys who took the job seriously, but seemed to enjoy what he did while keeping a pretty good sense of humor about him.

I got to know Joe when I was a reporter at the Detroit News covering the federal courthouse. He loved to schmooze and he seemed to be the kind of guy who got what he wanted. He died Thursday of pneumonia in Charlevoix at age 73, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In 1985, he became the U.S. Attorney in Detroit at age 44. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He came with some experience in that area. He had been with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office where he battled corruption, organized crime, violent crime and fraud.

As U.S. Attorney, his office prosecuted some high profile cases including the Chambers Brothers crack-cocaine gang, which dominated the city’s east side. Hayes himself was the co-prosecutor on the case, which I ended up covering for the News. His office also oversaw the massive investigation into corrupt judges in Detroit’s 36th District Court and Recorder’s Court.

Joe loved a good laugh and he used always kid me about the “Grey Rabbit,” a hippie bus I once took in college during winter break from Portland, Ore., to Indianapolis (I had to take a Greyhound on the final leg of the journey to Detroit.) I told him the amusing story about the Grey Rabbit, which included a passenger in front of me “borrowing” my tooth brush. I never used it again after it left my possession.

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