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Leland corruption trial delayed until January

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

A federal judge Monday delayed the October corruption trial of Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland until January.

The delay by U.S. District Judge Judith Levy came two weeks after Leland's campaign staffer Elisa Grubbs was indicted in the case; the extension gives her new lawyer time to prepare for trial.

Gabe Leland

Leland was indicted by a federal grand jury in October on bribery charges and accused of agreeing to accept $15,000 and free car repairs from a businessman. It was the latest corruption scandal to hit the top levels of Detroit government since former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's downfall.

Leland is the highest-ranking Detroit politician charged with a federal crime since Kilpatrick was indicted nine years ago and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

The three-count indictment capped a tumultuous year for Leland, 36, who had lived under a cloud of suspicion since The Detroit News obtained sealed FBI wiretap affidavits that revealed he was the target of a federal bribery probe.

Recorded conversations played a prominent role in the indictment, which portrayed the Detroit Democrat as a greedy, expletive-spewing schemer who used his political power to stall votes on a businessman's real estate matter last year while demanding bribes.

“I held it up again,” Leland told the businessman, who The News has identified as Detroit auto shop owner Robert Carmack. “It stayed … right in committee brother.”

Defendant Robert Carmack sits in Judge Cynthia Miller's courtroom during his preliminary hearing at 36th District Court in Detroit, Michigan on May 24, 2019.

On May 16, 2017, Leland offered to help the businessman in exchange for $15,000 and free car repairs, the government claims.

“I should ask for thirty,” Leland said, according to the indictment, “but I’m nice to you.”

Grubbs is accused of delivering the bribe from Carmack.

If convicted, Leland faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each bribery count and five years for bribery conspiracy.

Leland, who remains on City Council, has professed his innocence.

"I'm innocent and I'm looking forward to trial," Leland told reporters outside court last year.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews