MARCH 17, 2010
A corrupt Detroit councilwoman married to a prominent congressman with a $174,000 annual salary will use a taxpayer-financed attorney to appeal her jail sentence, even though her guilty plea waives the right to contest it.
Jail-bound Monica Conyers, wife of the famed Michigan Democrat (John Conyers) who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, claims to be indigent and unable to afford a lawyer to represent her in the appeal she promised in a federal court document not to file. Last week a federal judge sentenced Conyers to three years in prison and two years of probation for bribery.
Months earlier Conyers admitted taking bribes from a developer to change her vote on a multi million-dollar city contract to haul and treat the city’s sewage sludge. After vehement denials and public assurances of her innocence, Conyers pleaded guilty only because the FBI had electronic surveillance evidence of her taking cash bribes in fast-food parking lots.
The developer had already pleaded guilty in federal court to paying Conyers more than $6,000 in bribes and to using a courier on four separate occasions to the deliver the money. The plea agreement signed by the disgraced councilwoman in June specifically says that if the sentence imposed falls at 60 months or less, “defendant waives any right to appeal her conviction or sentence.”
Regardless, the public will finance the legal defense of a notoriously unscrupulous politician who has no grounds for an appeal. Although her husband has made six figures as a federal lawmaker for several decades, the bribed councilwoman signed an affidavit declaring that she can’t afford a lawyer because she has no money.
Detroit’s largest newspaper, which has thoroughly covered the Conyers scandal, asks: How could she be married to one of the longest tenured members of congress and unable to afford counsel? The veteran legislator, who has been embroiled in a few public scandals of his own, refuses to comment on his wife’s sudden indigence or who financed the private attorney that represented her for more than a year.
Could it be that Detroit’s acclaimed political power couple became estranged in the last few days? At last week’s sentencing Conyers invoked her husband and son in court to try to convince the judge not to send her to jail, pointing out that the “older man” and 14-year-old boy need her. Now the old guy with the lucrative salary refuses to pay her legal fees.
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