Feds not targeting Archer Jr. in corruption probe, lawyer says
Detroit — Federal prosecutors have assured businessman Dennis Archer Jr. that he is not a target of an ongoing public corruption investigation, according to a federal court filing Tuesday.
Archer received the assurance Friday, one week after a lawyer in a civil lawsuit claimed prosecutors were interested in the businessman amid a grand jury investigation into whether Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland extorted people for cash.
In the lawsuit, Christopher Williams, an owner of the shuttered Centre Park Bar in Harmonie Park, alleged city officials and Archer Jr. conspired to allow Archer Jr. to acquire the property near Randolph and Gratiot. The lawsuit also alleged Archer Jr. bribed local officials, including Mayor Mike Duggan and members of Detroit City Council.
Williams' attorney, Andrew Paterson, said he has received multiple subpoenas for testimony and documents relating to an "ongoing federal criminal investigation" of Leland. Prosecutors also asked him to provide a copy of Archer's deposition in a related civil lawsuit, during which the businessman was questioned about Leland and the mayor.
The claim prompted Archer's lawyer, Derek Mullins, to contact an unidentified prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office's public corruption unit Friday.
". . . during that conversation, the Assistant United States Attorney that counsel spoke with indicated that Mr. Archer is not the target of any investigation," Mullins wrote. "Accordingly, plaintiff’s assertion that Mr. Archer will be the target of a federal grand jury investigation in the very immediate future is baseless."
The grand jury has issued at least six subpoenas during a corruption investigation first revealed by The Detroit News last year.
"Based upon the documents my clients and I were requested to provide the federal grand jury and the U.S. Attorney's office, it is apparent that Dennis Archer Jr.'s relationship with Councilman Gabe Leland, as well as certain business transactions of Mr. Archer Jr. and his company, Ignition Media, are being investigated by federal authorities in their ongoing criminal probe of public corruption in the City of Detroit," Paterson said in a statement to The News on Tuesday.
An Aug. 8 subpoena obtained by The News indicated federal investigators also sought documents involving Leland, Centre Park Bar and whether the councilman had extorted cash, booze and food.
The Aug. 8 subpoena comes one month after Kenneth Scott Bridgewater, a co-owner of Centre Park Bar, sued Leland in federal court. Bridgewater claimed the Detroit councilman demanded more than $5,000 in free club access, drinks and food in exchange for help in a dispute with city officials.