Lawyer for Davis seeks probation, home confinement

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Robert Davis

The lawyer for embattled activist Robert Davis is asking a federal judge to sentence the longtime Highland Park school board member to home confinement with probation instead of jail for stealing district money and filing a false tax return.

In a court filing Monday, Douglas Mullkoff asked U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow to consider Davis' upbringing, public service, community activism and other aspects of his background.

"Robert Davis will pay restitution and a sentence that allows him to stay in the community and work will promote this goal," Mullkoff wrote.

The request seeks "a downward variance from the fraud guidelines and sentence Robert Davis to a term of probation with a significant period of home confinement, work release, electronic monitoring and three years supervised release with conditions," according to the filing.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, lawyer Geoffrey Fieger and State Rep. Philip Cavanagh have also penned letters in support of Davis.

In her letter, Garrett described Davis as a church-going, 'hands on father" who is "very remorseful and apologetic for any and all of his actions relevant to his case."

She also sought a break for Davis, writing: "It is my personal daily prayer that you will show mercy for Robert's son, mother, family and those of us who know, love and have witnessed a great change in Robert. ... Please allow him to show you and the community that he is worthy of your leniency."

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have urged the judge to sentence Davis to 18-24 months in prison and pay $446,708 restitution to Highland Park schools.

In a damning sentencing memo, prosecutors noted the irony of a self-described activist stealing from school children.

"If Davis wants to hold public servants accountable for their breaches of the public trust, then why would he now deserve leniency for his own corrupt acts?" prosecutors wrote.

Davis, who recently filed for bankruptcy, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in federal court. He pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to stealing money from cash-strapped Highland Park schools and filing a false tax return.

Davis was charged in 2012 in a 16-count indictment alleging he stole more than $125,000 from Highland Park schools between 2004 and 2010.

According to the indictment, Davis told the IRS he never made more than $63,000 in a single year between 2006 and 2009.

Davis was accused of using some of the school district's cash on an $84,000 spending spree.

After pleading guilty, he was fired from Detroit's biggest municipal union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.