Monica Conyers strikes plea deal in Detroit council bribery scandal

DETROIT — City Councilwoman Monica Conyers pleaded guilty to bribery charges Friday, becoming the latest Detroit politician taken down by scandal and marking a victory for federal prosecutors in their nearly two-year investigation into city corruption.

Conyers, the wife of powerful Democratic congressman John Conyers, who won her seat in 2005 largely on her husband’s name, admitted in federal court to taking cash from a Houston-based company in exchange for her vote on a city sludge-treatment contract.

The normally fiery 44-year-old Conyers spoke quietly while entering her plea and left the courthouse without commenting to reporters, free on bond. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she’s sentenced.

Her lawyer, Steve Fishman, said he will ask Judge Avern Cohn for a sentence not including prison time. Both Fishman and federal authorities say the plea deal does not include a formal cooperation deal.

Monica Conyers’ plea is the latest blow to a city beset by political scandal in recent years. Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a top aide were jailed after admitting to lying under oath about their romantic involvement during a whistle-blower trial.

And a recent audit of the city’s beleaguered public school system has uncovered theft and other wrongdoing by employees.

Prosecutors made clear that John Conyers, the 80-year-old chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, knew nothing of his wife’s corruption. He declined to answer a reporter’s questions as he walked to the House floor for a vote Friday morning, saying, “I have no comment whatever.”

City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. said attorneys were looking into whether Conyers will lose her seat on the board immediately or after she’s sentenced. The plea agreement does not specify how much money was involved.

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