Conyers going to jail

DETROIT (AP) — The wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers has less than 30 days of freedom before beginning a 37-month federal sentence for taking a bribe as a Detroit City Council member.

Judge Avern Cohn on Tuesday denied bond pending Monica Conyers’ appeal of his refusal to allow her to withdraw a guilty plea on the day she was sentenced.

Cohn’s order says she "shall report to the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons" on Sept. 10.

Conyers already won a delay until that date to help a relative with medical needs.

She pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit bribery and admitted taking cash to support a sludge-hauling contract.

It’s unknown when a federal appeals court will hear her case.

The Associated Press left a message for her lawyer.

Monica Conyers going back to school … divinity school

Almost too good to be true. Maybe she can find another Synagro to pay her tuition as well. From the Associated Press:

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit ex-councilwoman Monica Conyers says she’s enrolled in a divinity school.

The wife of Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan is awaiting a prison sentence for corruption. She told The Detroit News on Thursday that she enrolled in the school since resigning last year.

Monica Conyers says the school gives her peace and declined to disclose its name, saying she feared media attention. She says she would like to become a counselor.

Monica Conyers has appealed her criminal case. She had requested to scratch her guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bribery before being sentenced in March. She is scheduled to start a 37-month prison sentence by July 1.

Too bad it’s not a convent. Monica would do well for herself if she took a vow of silence.

Monica Conyers is indigent, gets tax-funded public defender

Somehow, when the powers that be thought it was a good idea to create a fund to pay for the legal services of poor people, I bet this wasn’t what they had in mind:

Monica Conyers is indigent, according to a federal judge who has appointed a tax-funded public defender to help her appeal the three-year sentence she received last week for bribery conspiracy.

The former Detroit City Council president and wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, needs public assistance in her effort to overturn a deal she made to avoid trial on federal charges related to allegations of city contractor bribes.

The fact that her husband was paid more than $170,000 last year isn’t a consideration when calculating her ability to pay a lawyer. Federal law requires the determination of a defendant’s ability to hire a lawyer to be made without regard for the financial ability of the family.

[The Detroit News].

Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to make a public plea to get your family members and other supporters to send random money orders to pay your debts?

Feel free to express your outrage in the comments. (Or support, I guess. But outrage is more fun).

This Week In Detroit Corruption

[This was originally going to be a Kwame Kilpatrick post. That was yesterday morning. Then the news just kept on rolling in…]

It’s sad that we’ve hit a point of oversaturation with Kwame Kilpatrick that we don’t post that much of what goes on with him anymore unless it’s particularly noteworthy, like his attorney plays the Patrick Ewing “We make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money” defense.

But this week, Detroit’s reputation is taking a worse beating than Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull. Not only did Kwame swoop back into town in the face of a new arrest warrant, but Monica Conyers and Sam Riddle are back in the news for their roles1 in the Synagro bribery scandal. Plus we have news of a federal investigation into Kilpatrick family kickbacks and the fallout from the Detroit Law Department’s complete and utter lack of professional ethics.2

1 Alleged! 2 Truth!

Kwame Kilpatrick just won’t go away. He’d like to, certainly, but on his own terms. Those terms undoubtedly include not going to jail, and probably not reimbursing the city either.

His endless attempts to stay out of jail for violating his parole by not paying restitution as ordered looked to be coming to an end. After the Court of Appeals denied his attempt to overturn Judge David Groner’s order to pay $70k by February 26, Kilpatrick filed a motion to have Groner removed for being biased against him. [Mlive]

“There’s nobody else in Michigan who’s been scrutinized like this ever in the history of this court,” he said.  “And I accept that, but I also want some fairness and somebody to be non-biased.”

This morning, Wayne County Circuit Court presiding criminal judge Timothy M. Kenny denied Kilpatrick’s motion. Rather than deal with Kilpatrick once and for all, Groner has scheduled his probation hearing for March 24, giving us two more weeks of this crap. [The Detroit News].

Monica Conyers is an absolutely nuts. After years of megalomaniacal displays, she managed to stay out of the spotlight for six months after pleading guilty to accepting cash for a vote in the city-wide Synagro scandal.

Then Wednesday, like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, she returned… and brought hell with her. [The Detroit News]:

An angry Conyers, who surprised U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn by announcing she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea on bribery charges, unleashed a loud courtroom tirade against federal prosecutors and the news media.

“I’m just not going to jail for something I didn’t do,” said the former Detroit city councilwoman. Conyers left the courtroom saying: “I’m appealing this case” because Cohn had “no right to do that.”

She apparently thought she’d get a lighter sentence.

It was disclosed for the first time that Conyers has attempted to cooperate with government prosecutors. According to Cohn, prosecutors said they are still checking out information she gave them but so far do not feel it is valuable enough to warrant a reduced sentence.

Cohn’s courtroom was packed, with dozens of people, including FBI agents who investigated the case, unable to get a seat to watch the sentencing.

“It was one of the most bizarre courtroom experiences of my career,” said Conyers’ attorney, Steve Fishman, who is in his 37th year of practice. He told Cohn after the hearing he needs to withdraw from the case as he could be called as a witness in any appeal.

“No judge in my memory has allowed cooperation (with prosecutors) to go unrewarded,” Fishman said. “That’s essentially what he did.”

Though Fishman did not argue that Conyers should be allowed to withdraw her plea, he told Cohn she deserved a much lower sentence. Cohn, he said, should resist media drum-beating for a harsh sentence.

They’ve made Monica Conyers the human pinata for all that is wrong with Detroit,” he said.

I’d bet Kwame probably disagrees with that statement. But even if it’s true, I’d say that Conyers has done a pretty good job of that all by herself.

Conyers also wanted Cohn and everyone else to think about the children:

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

Also,Cohn disclosed today that his sentence was lighter than he had planned for it to be.

Monica’s old partner-in-alleged-crime Sam Riddle is back in the news, finally picking a new attorney who will take his case (and announcing it on Twitter): former DOJ attorney Richard Convertino. Now he needs to find another juror who believes he didn’t do it. [Detroit Free Press].

The Kilpatrick family’s troubles extend beyond Kwame, of course. A grand jury is looking into accusations that Karl Kado paid Kwame, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his chief administrative officer Derrick A. Miller. The Detroit News has a transcript. The FBI is preparing federal charges, possibly racketeering, against Kwame.

Whether this is related to previous matter is yet to be revealed, but Kwame’s mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and her aide, Andrea Bragg, have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Detroit.  Bragg said she’s coming but Carolyn? She’s going to talk to her attorney to see how she’ll respond. But with her son and husband involved in that investigation… [UPDATE: Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said that she and Bragg will cooperate with the grand jury. She also said that she is “not a target.”]

The worst part is that I could go on. The Freep has a comprehensive list of the other scandals with which the city is still dealing.

The Joker (circa 1989) summed it up best:

This town needs an enema.”

Conyers gets 37 months

Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers has been sentenced to more than three years in jail, and as might be expected, she didn’t go out without at least an attemot at a fight.

The Detroit Free Press was the first with the sordid details of the affair:

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers was just sentenced to 37 months with two years supervised probation and no fine.

The 37 months is the top of the sentencing guidelines recommended by the probation department.

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

“I would like to withdraw my plea…I shouldn’t go to jail for something I didn’t do,” she said.

She told Judge Avern Cohn that he should read the report from a doctor, where she was sent by the court, and how susceptible she was to badgering. She repeated that this was a doctor
that she saw at the direction of the court.

She then repeated: “I’m just not going to jail for something I did not do.”

Cohn said he was satisfied that the guilty pleawas voluntary and knowingly given.

Earlier, her attorney Steven Fishman had clashed with the judge over sentencing guidelines.

Conyers also said that she knew that there was pressure on Cohn to make an example of her and Fishman said the media has “banged on Ms. Conyers like a pinata.”

He also said the media was gathered in the courtroom “like Madame LaFarge (the lady from Tale of Two Cities, who knitted while the heads rolled) around the guillotine.
Fishman said there is corruption and ongoing investigations, “but she should not be a poster child for all that.”

Conyers said there are things on the wiretaps that will exonerate her.

Goodbye and good riddance Monica, and say hi to Kwame when he more than likely joins you in the near future.

Feds want serious jail time for Monica Conyers

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors are calling for a prison sentence of about four years or more for Monica Conyers, who admitted taking bribes to support a sludge contract when she was on the Detroit City Council.

The government believes a judge should consider more than Conyers’ corrupt deal to support Synagro Technologies, a Houston company. Prosecutors said she should be punished for a series of alleged schemes to shake down people with city business.

The evidence, including hours of secretly taped phone calls, was aired at the recent trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, before his case ended in a mistrial.

"The pattern of abuse of office and self-enrichment highlighted during that trial confirms that Synagro was not an isolated or anomalous incident," assistant U.S. attorneys Mark Chutkow and R. Michael Bullotta wrote.

They said Riddle and Conyers received $69,500, a figure that would place her sentencing guidelines at 46 months to 57 months in prison. A sentence near the top of that range would be just under the five-year maximum punishment for conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, however, will have flexibility Wednesday because the guidelines are not mandatory. Defense lawyer Steve Fishman declined to comment on the government’s sentencing memo, which was unsealed Monday.

Conyers, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., pleaded guilty to conspiracy last summer and quit the council.

"The citizens of Detroit elected Ms. Conyers to an important public office, conferring on her the authority to make decisions impacting the health, safety and welfare of the community," Chutkow and Bullotta said. "They expected her to exercise that power solely for their benefit, without consideration of personal gain."

Ex-Cobo head faces sentencing for kickbacks; Feds says he gave information on Monica Conyers

“A lawyer for a former head of Detroit’s Cobo Center is trying to keep him out of prison, saying he’s suffered enough through a long corruption investigation by the FBI,” reports the Associated Press.

“Lou Pavledes will appear in federal court Thursday to receive his punishment for concealing nearly $100,000 in kickbacks from a Cobo contractor.

“Federal authorities say he supplied substantial assistance in their ongoing investigation of corruption in Detroit government. They’re recommending no more than 11 months in prison.”

Plenty to talk about in Riddle corruption case

It will take a month to present the government’s corruption case against Sam Riddle, who is facing a raft of extortion charges connected to his work with former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, who has pleaded guilty to a bribery charge.

That’s the word from Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cares to U.S. District Court Judge Avern Cohn, who will preside over the trial, reports The Detroit News.

The Conyers affair is not the only legal hot water Riddle is swimming in.

“In a separate case, Riddle is also charged with bribery in connection with transactions involving a pawn shop and former Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore. That case, before U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani, is expected to go to trial in December,” according to the News.

U.S. Attorney: Detroit corruption probe could take years

In an exclusive interview with The Detroit News, Terrence Berg, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said the federal corruption probe of Detroit government could extend for years.

Berg said the investigation is humming along, despite a perception that “nothing is happening” following several guilty pleas, including that of former Councilwoman Monica Conyers.