2 bribed Detroit City Council members: Why one gets probation, one gets prison

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 19:19:27-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — When Federal Judge Victoria Roberts sentenced former Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey to 2 years in prison, she knew the case was being watched in the city and by dozens of Spivey supporters inside the courthouse.

Because of COVID distancing, they had to sit in overflow rooms and watch on closed-circuit TV.

Spivey pleaded guilty to accepting $35,900 in bribes from a towing contractor over 5 years. Eight meetings and payments were recorded with the contractor working with the FBI.

Spivey got a city hall staffer to be a “bag man” and collect some of the money.

Defense Attorney Elliot Hall asked for probation.

The case of former Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland was discussed in detail in court.

Assistant U. S. Attorney David Gardey told the judge before sentencing the federal bribery charge against Leland was dropped in a larger plea deal. The bribe was paid by Robert Carmack in a land deal. Carmack was hit with his own criminal charges and had a long public, personal feud with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Leland pleaded guilty to misconduct in office in state court and was given probation.

Judge Roberts said Spivey is not aligned with Leland. And many will believe Spivey will get an unfair sentence if other than probation.

Before sentencing Spivey told the judge, he was apologetic, humble, embarrassed, and ashamed. He was sorry for undue attention to family, Detroit, constituents, church family, and friends.

He said, “I take full responsibility. I broke the law. I was wrong.”

During sentencing, Judge Roberts addressed the perception of unwarranted disparity. She said Spivey deserved more than Leland. The judge also said her focus is on 4 things, the seriousness of bribery of a public official, respect for the law, deterring other public officials, and that her sentence is proper when considering other public officials convicted of bribery.

The guidelines for the judge were 37 to 44 months. The prosecution asked for 40 months. In addition to the 24 months in prison, Judge Roberts added one year of supervised release with 7 hours of community service each week and a $25,000 fine. She also said Spivey can report for prison on July 1 so that he can attend his daughter’s high school graduation in June.

Outside of court, Spivey’s defense attorney Elliot Hall told reporters the judge gave a fair sentence adding, “nothing surprised me, really.”

Spivey did not talk with reporters outside of court.

Hall said, “He’s relieved. He knows what he’s got to do now. He has a path forward. He’s got to do this time. He’s got to rebuild his life.”

Hall says he will work to get Spivey into a federal prison near Detroit. Milan is just west of the city. Hall also says he will be looking into, with COVID, if Spivey could do his time in home confinement. But in court Judge Roberts said that is not her sentence.