André Spivey resigns from Detroit council after guilty plea in bribery case

Detroit – André Spivey resigned from Detroit city council on Wednesday, a day after pleading guilty to accepting bribes from a contractor, and became the second city councilor to be charged with an ongoing FBI investigation this year convicted of a crime.

Spivey, 47, resigned Wednesday morning in a letter to City Council President Brenda Jones saying, “It has been a pleasure to serve the city for nearly 12 years,” and that he is “for an even better future for Detroit prays ”.

In the letter he received from The Detroit News on Wednesday, Spivey did not refer to the bribery case, instead emphasizing that he represents District 4 and that “working to make our city financially solvent after bankruptcy” is challenging and rewarding. The withdrawal is effective with immediate effect.

Spivey will be sentenced on Jan. 19 by U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts and advisory sentencing guidelines include 37-46 months in federal prison.

Spivey pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a bribery conspiracy charge punishable by up to five years federal prison after he and an unidentified employee were accused of pocketing more than $ 35,000 in bribes to support a vote, which, according to sources, supports the towing industry. The conspiracy lasted from 2016-2020, and Spivey has spent the last year secretly working with investigators, his attorney Elliott Hall said.

“Over the course of four years, I’ve received payments in hopes of helping a person keep a city contract,” Spivey told Roberts on Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Spivey Roberts said he had not witnessed any previous crimes. He noted that he is a graduate of Central Michigan University and a law student at Wayne State University, expected to graduate in May 2023.

The city council was elected citywide for the first time in 2009. He was then elected to represent District 4 of the City Council in 2013 and 2017. He lives in the district’s historic East English Village and is the executive pastor of Oak Grove AME Church.

Spivey is no longer allowed to practice as a minister, and his crime charge will “prevent him from working,” Hall told The News on Wednesday.

Spivey will continue his law degree, “but it will take time. This will deter him from many goals. It will take time to restore and build his character, but we could do this by applying for a pardon. It is not impossible “, said Halle.

Oak Grove AME Church officials were unable to be reached immediately on Wednesday.

Politicians convicted of corruption-related crimes are prohibited from holding state or local office. Spivey’s departure marks the second vacancy on the city’s board of directors this year since Councilman Gabe Leland stepped down in May after pleading guilty of state misconduct. Meanwhile, a state investigation into bribery, extortion, postal and wire fraud that escalates over a fall re-election race for two FBI targets, Councilors Ayers and Scott Benson, has not resulted in criminal charges .

Spivey is the first to be indicted in the federal corruption investigation known as Operation Northern Hook, which targets corruption within Detroit City Hall and police-related towing and other matters.

“The people of Detroit deserve a city government that is free from corruption and pay-to-play policies,” said incumbent US attorney Saima Mohsin in a statement on Tuesday.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday he spoke to Spivey and his family late Tuesday and knows it is an “terribly difficult time” for the resigning councilor and the city.

The Mayor also reiterated his concern about towing practices in Detroit and plans to revise them.

“I have nothing good to say about the towing system in this town. It recreated a situation that is common for people to approach our elected officials,” Duggan said during an independent press conference that afternoon. “I have no idea whether or not there is a trial against the other council members, but we have to create a situation where that doesn’t happen.”

The ongoing FBI investigation is the most comprehensive investigation into Detroit City Hall corruption in the eight years since former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of illicit conspiracy and replaced by a new generation of leaders. In the past 12 years, more than 110 local union leaders, politicians, police officers and bureaucrats have been charged with federal corruption-related crimes, according to a database produced by The Detroit News.

In the Spivey case, the city council or a member of its staff identified as “Public Official A” accepted bribes greater than $ 1,000 on each transaction on eight separate occasions between February 2018 and February 2020, federal authorities said on Tuesday with. Payments were transferred to an undercover agent or confidential source related to towing matters pending before the city council.

On October 26, 2018, Spivey met an undercover agent at the Side Street Diner in Grosse Pointe and was asked to help two people with the towing. Spivey accepted $ 1,000 in cash from the agent and another $ 1,000 in cash from a confidential source.

Spivey met with the tow company to receive payments at the Dearborn Meat Market and received additional funding for an annual fundraiser on January 22, 2020 to help with the towing. Spivey received $ 10,000 with an additional $ 4,000 to an employee.

On January 27, 2020, he received an additional $ 4,000 to help with contracts, and on February 21, 2020, his associate from the towing source, Roberts, received an additional $ 12,000 in court.

Hall emphasized, “Mr. Spivey … had an intention but never cast a vote.”

Jones said in a statement Wednesday after Spivey’s resignation that she was determined to continue doing business in the city despite setbacks.

“The city council has faced many difficulties in my last 16 years. But like most Detroiters, we have always recovered and weathered difficult times,” said Jones, adding she remains determined to be accountable, transparent and in the work of the city council Urge integrity.

During Spivey’s vacancy, District 4 residents will be represented by both city council members, Jones and Ayers. Voters will decide in November whether to vote for District 4 Latischa Johnson or ML Elrick.

“I will continue to pray for the Spivey family and the people of Detroit,” said Jones.

Detroit City Councilor Raquel Castañeda-López also addressed Spivey and Leland’s confessions of guilt and the resignation of Spivey and Leland in a Facebook Live post on Wednesday morning.

She encouraged residents to remain committed and stressed that the seven remaining members will continue their work.

“Yes, we lost two members and unfortunately this is not the first time the city has dealt with corrupt city officials,” she said. “It is really frustrating, sad and disappointing that we see corruption at all levels of government. It speaks to the lack of awareness and understanding of what it means to be a civil servant and how to lead with integrity. “

Castañeda-López said residents deserve elected officials who are transparent.

“… bad actors should be held accountable, and that is exactly what happened to the two members who were indicted and stepped down from the council,” she added. “It’s easy to just throw your hands in the air and say politicians are corrupt. It is very important to vote in local elections. Local elections are so important, they affect the quality of your daily life. Don’t lose your faith, Detroiters. “

Spivey concluded in his letter on Wednesday by praising the accomplishments he had made while serving on the council.

“My office has been able to improve access for small businesses, work with the city departments to improve staff development programs, change the property maintenance code, pass several regulations including the Rental Regulations and Gas Station Regulations, the green light precursor, along with leading several task force roles on the city council, “he wrote to Jones. “It has been a privilege to work with such committed colleagues on the council and I pray for an even better future for Detroit.”

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Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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