Friday, June 8, 2018

On claim he extorted $15k — Detroit councilman Gabe Leland ain't sayin' shit

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 4:30 PM

This mouth had very little to say when it was recently deposed in a civil extortion case. - MT FILE
  • MT File
  • This mouth had very little to say when it was recently deposed in a civil extortion case.

Detroit City Councilmember Gabe Leland stands accused of extorting a constituent for $15,000, has been identified as a "target subject" in an ongoing federal corruption probe that has ensnared numerous local public officials, and has helped steer millions of dollars in business to companies owned by his former girlfriend's family.

And though he may be under investigation for potential violations of the law — Leland knows his damn rights, and he's not afraid to invoke them.

In a sworn deposition obtained by WJBK-TV, Leland repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment in response to questions about an alleged payment of as much as $15,000, his dealings with the FBI, and his relations with Gasper Fiore — a towing magnate convicted of bribery and the father of Leland's former girlfriend, Jennifer Fiore.

Leland is accused in a civil suit of offering to help Detroit business owner Robert Carmack with a property dispute in exchange for a $15,000 campaign contribution. Carmack has said he informed the FBI of the situation and that, based on the advice of federal agents, he wore a wire at the time of the exchange of money with a Leland associate. The FBI has declined to comment on the situation.

Here's what happened when Leland was deposed, according to WJBK.
"How do you know Mr. Robert Carmack?

Leland's attorney: "I'm advising Mr. Leland to take, assert his Fifth Amendment privilege for any questions having to do with Robert Carmack."

"In August of 2017 did you make a promise to Robert Carmack that if he gave you $15,000 for your re-election campaign that the city of Detroit would not sell his property located at 8124 Michigan Avenue in Detroit, Michigan?"

"I refuse to answer the question based on my Fifth Amendment rights," Leland answered.

"At any time in 2017 did you extort up to $15,000 from Mr. Robert Carmack?"

"I refuse to answer the question based on my Fifth Amendment rights," Leland said.

"Do you know whether or not you are currently under investigation for criminal matters by the FBI?

"I'm going to object on the grounds of relevance," Leland said.

"And I'm going to tell him not to answer that," his attorney chimed in. "There's no way he would know that."

"Have you been contacted by any agent of the FBI for an interview?"

"I going to object on grounds of relevance," Leland's attorney said.

"I refuse to answer the question based on my Fifth Amendment rights," Leland said.

"Have you received a subpoena from the Justice Department or the FBI?"

"I'm going to object on grounds of relevance," his attorney said. "You can answer that."

"No," Leland said.

"Have you ever received any money from Mr. Gasper Fiore?"

"I refuse to answer that question based on my Fifth Amendment right," Leland said.

Leland still has a job representing District 7 in Detroit City Council. No action appears to have been taken against him, despite at least one call, from Deadline Detroit columnist Allan Lengel, for Leland's colleagues to "At minimum ... investigate to determine if any action should be taken against Leland" in order to make clear that councilmembers "should be held to a high standard."

During the Mackinac Policy Conference last week, Leland told the Free Press that, regarding the federal probe, "I feel that there are some issues where I can't necessarily speak to at this time ... I feel OK where I'm at."

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