Skip to comments.[Detroit City Council']Everett faces bribery charges [Bribed with sausage]
Posted on 10/22/2004 7:16:52 AM PDT by ClintonBeGone
DETROIT Detroit City Councilwoman Kay Everett accepted more than $150,000 in bribes from a major city contractor in exchange for supporting his efforts to get more money for city contracts, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.
Everett demanded regular payments in exchange for helping Detroit businessman Frank Vallecorsa, the owner of American International Inc., as far back as 1997, the indictment said. She received $139,000 in payments and also received free meals and vacations. She even demanded and received 17 pounds of sausage worth $125 in May 2001, the government said. She referred to the money as loans, but the FBI said she never repaid any of it.
Vallecorsas company had more than $70 million in city contracts between 1990 and 2002.
Everetts lawyer, James C. Thomas, said Everett will plead not guilty.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he would support Everetts efforts to raise money for her legal defense.
This is a very difficult time for Councilwoman Everett, and her family and my prayers are with them, he said. Councilwoman Everett asked me if she was indicted, to be part of a group to support her, and I have agreed to be part of that group.
Patrick Keenan, a law professor at University of Detroit Mercy, said friendship and loyalty are important but says its a risk for Kilpatrick to play a role in Everetts defense fund.
If it ends up in a conviction, then everyone who supports you ends up looking bad, he said. Id keep some distance there.
The 28-count indictment claims Everett didnt disclose her financial relationship with Vallecorsa when she twice voted to approve hikes, worth $6.3 million, in the companys $26 million contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
Everett said she plans to remain in office indicted elected officials can stay pending trial under state law.
The councilwoman was secretly charged in April on a four-count felony indictment on wire fraud and extortion charges, based in part on secret FBI surveillance tapes of Everett talking about city business.
A superseding indictment handed up by the grand jury Thursday added 24 counts of bribery, lying to the FBI, conspiracy and filing false tax returns stemming from alleged payments she received from Vallecorsa. Shes expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court on Nov. 1. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
Interim U.S. Attorney Craig S. Morford said the indictment demonstrates the seriousness with which my office, the FBI and the IRS view allegations of corruption by public officials as well as our strong commitment to investigating and prosecuting these types of cases.
Said Thomas: We look forward to vigorously fighting the charges in court, declining to discuss details of the governments allegations. An indictment is nothing more than a piece of paper that gets a case started.
Everett, 63, a native Detroiter and former schoolteacher, has been on the City Council since June 1991. She was elected to the Detroit School Board in 1986.
Im trying to fight this just as I fight three times a week on dialysis. I will fight to save my political career, said Everett, who suffers from kidney disease. She declined to address questions about the specifics of the indictment.
The indictment said Everett abused her position of public trust and that she avoided paying more than $30,000 in taxes by filing false tax returns that didnt include the money from Vallecorsa as income.
She also allegedly lied to the FBI in February 2003 when she said she had repaid Vallecorsa $71,400 of the loans that were made before 1999. In fact, she had never made any repayments, the indictment said.
Some of the allegedly false tax returns were filed jointly with her then-husband, Dr. Walter L. Everett Jr., who appeared before the grand jury. He was not charged.
Beyond the $139,000 in payments which she claimed were loans that Everett received in at least 12 separate checks obtained by the FBI, she received $5,950 to pay for the costs of staying at The Greenhouse, a posh spa in Arlington, Texas; $3,277 for round-trip airline tickets to Phoenix; and $804 for airline tickets to Orlando. She also received numerous meals, the indictment said.
Everett voted in 1999 for a separate three-year contract for Vallecorsas company with the water department worth $13 million for skilled-trades assistance.
In November 2001, she voted to approve the first change to the main water contract a $3.3 million increase.
In July 2002, she announced her opposition to awarding a water department contract to a Vallecorsa competitor. Everett requested that the contract be delayed pending answers to her inquiries, the indictment said.
In September 2002, Vallecorsa rejected her request for another $10,000. But she went ahead and voted to approve an additional $3 million increase in the Detroit Water and Sewerage contract that Vallecorsa had which also extended the life of the four-year contract to August 2002.
The Detroit city charter stipulates that no council member can vote on any matter related to the approval of a contract in which the council member has a financial interest.
The indictment is an offshoot of the governments more than three-year investigation into the administration of former Wayne County Executive Edward H. McNamara. Its the third prosecution in the probe.
The FBI secretly recorded conversations Everett had with Vallecorsa and conducted surveillance on the pair during at least one lunch at a restaurant.
Vallecorsa an unindicted co-conspirator has been cooperating with the FBI since at least mid-2001 and has been interviewed by the FBI more than 50 times without any formal agreement to protect him from prosecution. The FBI hasnt said how many of Vallecorsas phone calls and meetings were secretly taped, and if any other officials were on tape.
The U.S. Attorneys Office won convictions last month against Wilbourne A. Kelley III, the countys former deputy chief operating officer, and his wife, Barbara, largely on the strength of Vallecorsas testimony.
The Kelleys were convicted of accepting cash payments and lavish gifts from Vallecorsa, who also had extensive contracts at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The FBI tapes revealed that Kelley discussed laundering campaign contributions from a contractor to a former county executive and then-Detroit mayoral candidate Kwame Kilpatrick. But the tapes provided no hint of whether any improper payoffs ever occurred.
The mayors father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was chief of staff to McNamara and was listed on a 2002 federal search warrant as a person of interest. He was referenced on the tapes as asking Vallecorsa for campaign donations. Kilpatricks office said the mayor never received any contributions from Vallecorsa.
Vallecorsas American International Inc. does business as Best American Industrial Services on most of its contracts with the city of Detroit.
Evidence in a 1999 civil lawsuit showed that Vallecorsas companies had received city contracts worth more than $53 million in the 1990s, mostly through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Best American has also received $18 million from a three-year, $57 million city contract awarded in 2001.
Vallecorsas lawyer, Thomas Cranmer, declined to comment on the substance of the indictment.
You can reach David Shepardson at (313) 222-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure I would take sausage from a guy that runs a waste disposal business.
Bribed with a sausage?
Isn't McGreevey being investigated for the same thing?