Posted: March 12th, 2010 by Militant Libertarian
In June of last year, former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, wife of powerful Congressman John Conyers, Jr., pleaded guilty to accepting at least $69,500 in bribes in shakedown schemes designed to enrich Conyers and a Conyers aide, Sam Riddle, Jr., who confessed in May, 2009 and agreed to testify against Conyers.
On Wednesday, June 24, 2009 federal prosecutors gave Monica Conyers until midnight that day to accept or reject what was then a secret plea deal. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy, expecting to get a slap on the wrist, probation or, at worst, community service. US District Court Judge Avern Cohnaccepted her voluntary guilty plea. Conyers tried to recant her guilty plea when Cohn sentenced her to 37 months in a federal detention center. As Conyers yelled that she was going to appeal the sentence, Cohn ordered the crowded courtroom cleared.
Conyers insisted she was the victim of “badgering” last year when she agreed to the plea. Judge Cohn reviewed the transcripts of the June hearing in which Conyers denied any coercion, and said she was voluntarily pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy. “Bribery,” Cohn said as he imposed the sentence,“is a betrayal of trust,” adding that Conyers, as a city official who was supposed to be acting in the best interests of the people of Detroit had committed an “egregious” crime.
In Riddle’s trial in February (which ended in a mistrial) much more evidence of Conyers complicity in the scheme to enrich herself by extorting money from companies wanting to do business with the city of Detroit were revealed. Riddle will be retried in July. Prosecutors asked Judge Cohn to consider the evidence revealed in the February trial of Conyers‘ co-conspirator, Riddle, when imposing sentence on Conyers. Steve Fishman, Conyers‘ lawyer argued that his client should not be sentenced for “purported crimes” that had not been proven. Cohn, who also heard the Riddle case, agreed with prosecutors that the evidence in the Riddle case was relevant. In the end, Judge Cohn changed his mind and threw out the additional evidence revealed in the Riddle case only because the case ended in a mistrial. Had he used that information, he would have been obligated to sentence Conyers to at least five years in a federal detention facility. “This sentence,” Cohn told Conyers, “is based solely on [your] conviction”
Conyers‘ plea agreement prevents her from appealing any sentence less than 5 years. CongressmanJohn Conyers, Jr., the head of the powerful House Judicial Committee, was not in court with his wife. His office said he was in Washington working on important healthcare legislation for the American people.
Hat Tip: RBN