- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2009

In the latest development of a sweeping federal investigation into political corruption in Detroit, a political consultant linked to disgraced former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers was indicted Wednesday on charges of extortion, bribery and lying to the FBI.

The charges against Samuel L. Riddle Jr. come two weeks after Conyers pleaded guilty to taking bribes to help a wastewater company win a city contract. Mr. Riddle is also accused of taking part in that scheme.

“The city of Detroit has a right to expect honest services from its public officials, however, that trust has been abused,” said Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the bureau’s Detroit office. “The indictment speaks for itself by outlining an arrangement of extortion and bribery between Sam Riddle and Monica Conyers.”

Conyers, a Democrat who is the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., resigned from the board after her guilty plea and is awaiting sentencing.

Authorities have said Mr. Conyers, also a Democrat and a powerful member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is not linked to his wife’s crimes. He is also not named or implicated in the indictment against Mr. Riddle.

A conservative public interest law firm in Virginia has filed a House ethics complaint against Mr. Conyers that states he wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency supporting another wastewater project involving a company with links to his wife. The Landmark Legal Foundation’s complaint involves a different company and project than the one that led to Conyers’ guilty plea.

A message left for a spokeswoman for Mr. Conyers seeking comment was not returned Wednesday evening, but the congressman has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Riddle has also denied any wrongdoing. A message left with his attorney was also not returned Wednesday evening.

In the indictment, Mr. Riddle and Conyers are accused of extorting money from people and companies who had business with the City Council or pension board, of which she was also a member.

In one example, according to the indictment, Mr. Riddle and Conyers extorted $25,000 from a strip club seeking a license change from the City Council.

Authorities say Mr. Riddle also served as Conyers’ bagman when they accepted $20,000 from the owner of Synagro Technologies in exchange for Conyers voting in favor of the company receiving a sludge contract.

Conyers faces up to five years in prison.

Mr. Riddle and former Michigan state Rep. Mary Waters were also charged with giving $12,500 to a pawn shop owner as a bribe so that he would move his shop.

Mr. Riddle faces decades in prison if convicted.

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