- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

DETROIT | Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., has been ensnared in a federal bribery investigation and is discussing a possible plea deal, The Washington Times has learned.

A federal law enforcement source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the news media, confirmed media reports in Detroit that Mrs. Conyers was the person identified in court records as “Council Member A.”

Court papers say the council member accepted bribes from a consultant in connection with a City Council vote to approve a $1.2 billion sludge hauling contract.

The consultant, Rayford W. Jackson, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a city official in connection with #the con#tract to Houston-based Synagro Technologies Inc.

In addition, federal authorities are talking to Sam Riddle Jr., a former aide of Mrs. Conyers, about his role in the matter, the law enforcement official said.

Mr. Riddle was not available Wednesday for comment, but his Detroit-based attorney, David Steingold, said he could “confirm that no plea offer had been made to my client at this time.”

When pressed, Mr. Steingold said he would not make any further statements about Mr. Riddle’s involvement in the ongoing investigation, noting that “it is a sensitive time in these negotiations and I do not want to damage my client.” He did not elaborate.

Mrs. Conyers’ attorneys and federal prosecutors have been discussing a plea deal, The Times was told. Details of the negotiations, first reported by the Detroit News and Free Press, were not available Wednesday evening.

Special Agent Sandra Berchtold of the FBI’s Detroit field office declined Wednesday to comment on the reports.

With a media firestorm swirling around her, Mrs. Conyers appeared at a City Council meeting Wednesday to discuss regulating local strip clubs but did not take questions about the federal case.

On Tuesday, she urged supporters during a televised appearance to pray for her, saying she was “a child of God.”

“If you aren’t praying for me then you are just part of the problem,” she said.

The voice mail of Mrs. Conyers’ attorney Steven Fishman declared bluntly that he would have no comment.

“If you are a member of the media calling about the Monica Conyers case, I have an acute case of laryngitis, lasting for a long time,” the answering-machine message said Wednesday night.

Mr. Conyers, who has represented Detroit in Congress since 1964 and is chairman of one of Congress’ most influential committees, declined to comment Wednesday through his office in Washington.

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