Former Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey in 2020 failed a government lie detector test about accepting bribes from a Detroit businessman and harmed a federal corruption investigation by leaking sensitive information to others, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors portrayed Spivey as a liar and a leaker in a new court filing on Friday to refute claims he made seeking leniency in his bribery case ahead of sentencing on Wednesday.
Spivey, 47, pleaded guilty in September to accepting $35,900 in bribes from a confidential FBI source between 2018 and 2020 in exchange for wielding his political influence.
In a court filing earlier this week, Spivey asked a federal judge for a sentence of probation, explaining that he extensively cooperated with authorities. Spivey also claimed the bribe payments he took were “loans” to help deal with financial issues and mounting bills.
None of that is true, according to prosecutors.
“Even setting aside the issue of Spivey lying during his debriefings and failing a polygraph, there is simply no possible basis for which Spivey can claim that his sentence should be reduced given that he failed to identify a single bribe beyond the ones that the FBI already knew about,” prosecutors wrote in Friday’s filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit. “Instead, Spivey is misleading the court and simply seeking to depress his sentence by claiming ‘cooperation.’ “
Spivey’s case is part of an ongoing federal corruption investigation into Detroit’s towing operations and other matters, known as Operation Northern Hook. Prosecutors have recommended Spivey be sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Spivey, who served on the council for nearly a dozen years, admitted to taking $35,900 in bribes from a confidential FBI source and an undercover law enforcement agent. He accepted the bribes in exchange for his assistance with a pending vehicle towing ordinance before Detroit City Council, he said in court in September. The bribes were paid over the course of eight separate meetings between February 2018 and February 2020 with the source.
Prosecutors have not identified the FBI source, but Spivey revealed the source’s identity to others and disclosed additional information that harmed the federal investigation, according to prosecutors.
The day after the FBI approached Spivey about cooperating, he warned an unnamed staffer in his office who was allegedly involved in the bribery scheme to “watch out for law enforcement,” prosecutors wrote.
Then, last June, Spivey told another public official, who was unnamed in court records, about the FBI source’s identity.
“The public official subsequently informed other individuals in city government of the identity of the FBI confidential source, who then passed the information on to a target of the government’s investigation,” prosecutors wrote. “Spivey leaked all of this information despite the admonitions of the FBI agents that he keep his dealings with them confidential or he could harm his efforts to cooperate.”
Spivey’s attorney, Elliott Hall, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors also poked holes in Spivey’s claims of financial hardship. They included a partial transcript in Friday’s court filing of a recorded call Spivey made to the confidential source in February 2018 asking for $1,500 for a trip to Las Vegas.
“I’m a little short. If you can, man,” Spivey said, according to the court filing. “We going to uh, see (unintelligible) out in Vegas.”
“Alright. Monday morning. I’m here. Fifteen. That’s all you need?” the source responded.
Spivey eventually took $2,000 “so that he could party in Vegas for his birthday,” prosecutors wrote.
Spivey also is seeking probation because that was the sentence given to Gabe Leland, another former Detroit councilman recently convicted of a corruption charge.
Leland was sentenced to probation last year when he pleaded guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court to felony misconduct in office for accepting a $7,500 campaign contribution in cash from local businessman Robert Carmack.
But prosecutors on Friday said that Leland’s case is not a good comparison to Spivey’s case.
“The government resolved the case against Leland as it did because the strength of the government’s case had been substantially weakened as a result of the conduct of Robert Carmack, the government’s primary witness against Leland,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors went on to list questionable behavior by Carmack, who was embroiled in a feud with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Carmack is awaiting trial in Wayne County Circuit Court on charges stemming from an alleged $1 million real estate fraud scheme. Carmack denies the charges.
More: Ex-Detroit Councilman Andre Spivey seeks probation in bribery case, says he took ‘loans’
More: Feds: Ex-Detroit councilman Andre Spivey took $35K in bribes, used $2K for Las Vegas trip
Contact Joe Guillen: email@example.com or 313-222-6678. You can follow him on Twitter @joeguillen.