Detroit Councilman André Spivey and a staffer introduced to other council members an undercover FBI agent and a confidential bureau informant, who were working together to unearth public corruption. The revelation raises questions as to what may have transpired after the introduction.
Scott Benson was one of those councilmembers, WDIV reported, citing Spivey's lawyer, Elliott Hall. Hall said the other was not Janeé Ayers. Both have come under federal scrutiny as part of the broader corruption probe.
The informant, who is in the towing industry, and the agent, who was posing as his business associate, collectively paid $35,900 in bribes from 2018 to 2020 to Spivey and the unnamed staffer with the intent of getting special consideration in towing matters before the city.
On Tuesday, Spivey pleaded guilty to taking the bribes and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
The court document, a 19-page plea agreement with Spivey, does not name the council members who were introduced to the agent and informant, or specificy when the introductions took place.
What's known is known is the FBI is continuing to investigate the city council in the areas of towing and other matters. Last month, agents raided the homes and offices of Councilmembers Scott Benson and Janee Ayers and their top staffers. Both council members are running for re-election.
In 2017, Detroit City Council was considering adopting a new towing ordinance. It was at that time, the confidential source involved in the towing industry started working with the FBI. The feds note in the plea agreement that the informant was "not seeking to avoid being charged or to reduce a pending criminal charge."
On Feb. 18, 2018, the confidential informant, under the auspices of the FBI, met with Spivey and asked the councilmember to help him get a city towing contract. At that time, he gave Spivey $2,000, the court document said.
Later that year, on Oct. 26, the informant and the undercover FBI agent posing as the business associate, met with Spivey at the Side Street Diner in Grosse Pointe. While the meeting was being recorded, the informant and the undercover agent each gave Spivey $1,000 and asked the councilman to help with a proposed city towing ordinance.
During that meeting, Spivey wrote a text on his cell phone and showed it to the informant. It asked if he could trust the business asociate, who was actually the undercover agent. The document stated that Spivey was trying to determine if the undercover agent was a member of law enforcement.
The staffer "understood that the money was being paid in order to influence and reward (Spivey) in connection with his work on the city council."
There were subsequent meetings including on Jan. 22, 2020. At the direction of Spivey, the informant gave Spivey's staffer $10,000 to support the councilman's birthday party fund-raising event. During the meeting, the staffer asked the informant for $4,000 more to support Spivey.
At that point, according to the court document, the informant asked the staffer if the defendant was working to get him a towing contract. The staffer assured him Spivey was working hard to do that.
Then the following month, the staffer met with the informant and the undercover agent during a recorded meeting. At the time, the informant gave the staffer $8,000 and the agent gave $4,000, with the idea the money would go to Spivey.
While the document says the bribe money was accepted to influence the city council, Spivey "did not change any votes or take any official acts to assist" the informant or his business.