Detroit Councilman Leland indicted on three counts.
Detroit City Council Member Gabriel “Gabe” Leland was indicted Oct. 4 on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery, according to court documents and a statement from U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider. The charges resulted from an FBI investigation.
The federal grand jury indictment stated that between May and August 2017, Leland conspired with campaign worker Elisa Grubbs to solicit a $15,000 cash bribe, plus free auto body work, from the owner of a local auto repair shop who was involved in a property dispute with the city.
The indictment alleges that Leland offered to use his official position as a member of the Detroit City Council to help delay or prevent the city’s sale of property the business owner believed he owned in exchange for the bribes.
Leland, 36, is charged with taking a $7,500 cash bribe from the business owner on Aug. 4, 2017. The business owner subsequently filed a lawsuit against Leland, alleging that the council member did not hold up his end of the bargain. Grubbs, who worked on Leland’s campaign, was charged for her alleged role in the conspiracy on Oct. 3.
The indictment details several discussions Leland had with the business owner between May and August 2017, including a meeting at the downtown Caucus Club, where Leland acknowledged receiving $7,500 cash from him.
At a June 8, 2017, meeting of the Detroit City Council’s Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee, which Leland chaired, he cast the sole vote against placing the sale of the property on the city council agenda. At a regular Detroit City Council session on June 13, 2017, Leland cast the sole vote against the sale of the property by the City of Detroit.
At press time, Leland’s attorney, Steven Fishman, was unavailable for comment.
In a news conference on Oct. 9, Leland announced he “is innocent until proven guilty” and plans to conduct “business as usual.” When asked whether Leland would continue to carry on his duties as a council member, a representative at the Detroit City Council office said the council had no comment.
Leland was elected in 2013 to represent Detroit’s District 7 on the city’s west side. Last November, he was re-elected to a second four-year term. He previously served in the state House of Representatives.
He is the son of the late Burton Leland, former state lawmaker and Wayne County commissioner, who died in February of this year. Leland, who was active at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, is the first Jewish member of the Detroit City Council since Mel Ravitz, who served from 1982 to 1997.
If convicted of the federal bribery and bribery conspiracy counts, Leland could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each bribery count and up to five years and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count, amounting to a potential 25-year prison sentence and $750,000 in fines.
The case will be heard by Judge Judith E. Levy of the U. S. Eastern District of Michigan.