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Corruption Chronicles

Detroit Rocked By More Scandals

Months after its corrupt mayor gets charged with serious crimes, one major city’s council is being federally investigated for accepting bribes from a company in exchange for approval of a lucrative multi million-dollar contract.

It wasn’t enough that Detroit’s scandal-plagued mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) made headlines earlier this year for lying under oath to cover an extramarital affair with a city employee during a police whistleblower trial last year that cost taxpayers millions to settle. A 12-count indictment charges Kilpatrick, whose tenure has been infested with corruption, with perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

Now several members of the Detroit City Council are suspected of taking bribes to approve a $47 million contract last fall with a Houston company to handle sludge waste from the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The FBI has electronic surveillance evidence of City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers taking bribes from the company, Synagro Technologies.

Conyers initially opposed the sludge contract but voted in favor of it after accepting payments from the company, according to federal investigators. Besides council members, other city officials are being probed for their role in the scandal including the disgraced mayor’s top political consultant (Michael Tardif) who also happens to be a prominent member of the Democratic National Committee.

The Synagro investigation is actually part of a broader FBI probe of a
City Hall long plagued with fraud and corruption. Several other public deals are also being scrutinized, including $45 million in unauthorized contracts through the school district’s risk management office.

Scandal seems to be par for the course in Detroit, which has seen former City Council members and even a police chief indicted, arrested or imprisoned. The current mayor is probably next, followed by at least a few sitting council members.


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