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Tag: Detroit

Feds Charge Detroit Political Consultant with Teaming Up with Rep. John Conyer’s Wife to Extort At Least $65,000

Sam Riddle/wdiv
Sam Riddle/wdiv

The political corruption probe continues to unravel in Detroit. The latest charges involve a free-talking political consultant Sam Riddle and  ex-Detroit City council member Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John Conyers.  Riddle once worked as Monica Conyer’s chief of staff. By the way, this isn’t the end of the corruption charges in Detroit.

BY JOE SWICKARD, BEN SCHMITT, DAVID ASHENFELTER AND GINA DAMRON
Detroit FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
DETROIT — Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle was indicted today on a host of federal charges ranging from bribery to extortion, mail fraud and making false statements and court documents contend that former City Councilwoman Monica Conyers participated at every turn of the conspiracy.

Also charged was former state legislator Mary Waters, who lives with Riddle. The pair were charged with conspiracy to bribe and two counts of bribery stemming from their alleged roles in helping a Southfield pawnshop relocate and expand in that city.

Riddle alone was charged with multiple offenses in connection with the tainted 2007 Synagro sludge-treatment contract. He was charged with extortion, making false statements, mail fraud and bribery relating to Synagro.

For Full Story

Read Indictment

Read More Charges

Read Press Release

Govt Scraps Plans to Build New Detroit FBI Headquarters Downtown

McNamara Building/wikipedia photo
McNamara Building

It’s too bad the new plans were scrapped. It would have been good for development in a city that is hurting. Plus, the FBI could use an upgrade on its aging offices. On the other hand, the existing building, the McNamara Building is centrally located downtown. Under these difficult times, the FBI in Detroit will have to make due.

Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT — The federal government has scrapped plans to build an FBI headquarters in downtown Detroit, a spokesman for the General Services Administration said Friday.

Instead, the government plans to find more space for the FBI at its present home inside the McNamara Building on Michigan Avenue, David Wilkinson said in a telephone interview from Chicago.

“That will be the long-term answer,” Wilkinson said.
It’s bad news for agents and support staff who were pleased in May 2007 when the GSA announced it had awarded a $100 million contract to build the FBI an eight-story office building, a four-story parking garage and a single-story automotive facility on a 10.9-acre site across from the Greyhound bus station.

In January 2008 the government announced it had canceled the contract, citing the collapse of the credit market and unforeseen site development problems. But the GSA said it was continuing to plan for a new building and look for alternative sites.

For Full Story

U.S. Atty. Paralegal in Detroit Suspected of Leaking Secret Info in City Hall Probe

detroit-city-limitsYes, this is the scandal that keeps on giving.

Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT — A paralegal at the U.S. Attorney’s Office is suspended after officials suspected she leaked confidential information to Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle while he was under criminal investigation, people familiar with the investigation said Monday.

Wendolyn Greene, formerly Wendolyn Johnson, answered “no” Monday when asked if she still worked for the federal prosecutor’s office in Detroit, where she was a paralegal in the special prosecutions unit. She then hung up her home phone.

“We had an employee by that name; I don’t know her status,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Gina Balaya said Monday when asked about Greene. Balaya later called back to clarify, saying Greene “is still an employee of this office.” Beyond that, “we can’t discuss her status at all,” she said.

People familiar with the investigation said the controversy arose about a year ago, close to the time that news of the Synagro Technologies Inc. bribery scandal became public. Riddle had dated Greene and federal officials suspected he got information from her relevant to an ongoing federal investigation, sources said.

For Full Story

Businessman Pleads Guilty in Detroit City Hall Probe; Ex-Mayor Kilpatrick Could Be Implicated

James Rosendall/zoominfo photo
James Rosendall/zoominfo photo

In a town on life support, where the poor are getting poorer, and unemployment is far too high, elected officials are apparently finding ways to line their pockets.

BY DAVID ASHENFELTER, JOE SWICKARD, M.L. ELRICK and JIM SCHAEFER
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — An executive for a Texas waste disposal company spent seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars lavishing cash, campaign contributions, airplane flights and a case of Cristal champagne in an effort to win the support of Detroit city officials for a $1.2-billion sludge disposal contract.
But it took Synagro Technologies executive James Rosendall only 10 minutes to confess his deeds Monday when he pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy in Detroit federal court.
Rosendall, 44, did not publicly identify the members of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration, City Council and other city officials who are described, but not named, in the court record laying out Rosendall’s pay-to-play scheme.
But the voluminous allegations surrounding the person identified in court as City Official A appear to point to events, travels and activities that line up with Kilpatrick’s years in elected office.

For Full Story

Read Plea Agreement

Read Transcript of Plea Hearing

Battle in Motown to Force a Reporter to Reveal Sources Continues

The battle to force a reporter to disclose sources continues in Detroit. Here’s the latest.

By ED WHITE
Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

Associated Press Writer
DETROIT — A lawyer asked a judge Tuesday to declare a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter in contempt for refusing during a court-ordered deposition to reveal unnamed sources who leaked information about a terrorism prosecutor.
A lawyer for former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino asked that reporter David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press be fined $500 to $5,000 per day until he divulges who in the U.S. Justice Department helped him with a 2004 story about an ethics investigation.
Ashenfelter, 60, invoked the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition Dec. 8. Two federal judges had ordered him to comply with a subpoena for information.
“It is important that Mr. Ashenfelter’s defiance come to a very rapid end,” Convertino’s attorney, Stephen Kohn, said in a filing in federal court.
“This discovery dispute has gone on for nearly 18 months, during which time Mr. Ashenfelter has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to make frivolous and unfounded arguments whose only purpose is to cause delay and drive up costs,” Kohn said.
For Full Story
Read Convertino’s Motion

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Cigar-Chomping-Mob Fighting Detroit Fed Prosecutor Keith Corbett Calling it Quits

He may not be one of kind, but he’s the last of a kind. Cigar chomping, Notre Dame fan, Corbett was a fixture in Detroit in the fight against the mob.

By David Ashenfelter
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — The federal prosecutor who helped break the Detroit Mafia is calling it quits.
Keith Corbett, 59, the cigar-chomping assistant U.S. Attorney who ran the office’s Organized Crime Strike Force, said he plans to retire on Jan. 3 because of shifting priorities in the Justice Department and because, well, he’s worn out.
“I don’t want to be one of those old guys sitting around talking about the good old days and telling people how we used to do it,” Corbett told the Free Press. He said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do next.
Coworkers — as well as criminal lawyers who’ve matched wits with Corbett — said they’ll be sorry to see him go.
“He’s as good on his feet as any lawyer who ever walked into a courtroom,” said Detroit criminal lawyer Robert Morgan, a former federal prosecutor.
For Full Story

Disastrous Real Estate Market Even Hurting Feds Efforts to Sell Seized Properties In Criminal Cases

There’s not much that the disastrous real estate market hasn’t impacted. Now we see it’s even hurting the feds ability to sell seized properties.

By Ed White
Associated Press
DETROIT – Federal prosecutors twice pursued a former autoworker suspected of running a multimillion-dollar drug operation. The first attempt fizzled when Clarence Carson died shortly after an indictment. The second? Blame it on the collapse of Detroit’s real-estate market.
The government recently abandoned a plan to sell nearly three dozen properties – land, houses and strip malls – believed to have been acquired by Carson through heroin, marijuana and cocaine sales.
“The market tanked,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Ziedas said. “If we were able to effectively market these and come up with some kind of return, we would have done it.”
Like any seller, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is in charge of getting rid of assets grabbed by the Justice Department, is finding that location is the key to real estate these days.
“We are dealing with markets that have either declined slightly or tanked in different regions,” said Dave Turner, a Marshals Service spokesman in Washington.

For Full Story