Detroit Councilman Gabe Leland formally charged in bribery scandal

Leland released on bond

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Kayla Clarke

DETROIT - A Detroit city councilman was arranged on bribery charges Monday and is free on his own recognizance.

Gabe Leland  could be facing 10 years in federal prison if convicted on the charges. A judge entered a not guilty plea on Leland's behalf.

Leland is charged with conspiracy and bribery for allegedly taking $7,500 from a Detroit businessman looking to save his property from being sold by the city of Detroit.

Leland had very little to say, other than, "I'm innocent, looking forward to trial."

There are recordings, but the man who allegedly paid $7,500 in bribe money to a go-between is the one who had a recording device on him when he met with Leland. That's according to Leland's attorney, Steve Fishman.

"Gabe Leland never accepted nothing for himself. Everyone knows that," Fishman said. "I'm saying there was no bribery."

A grand jury indictment claims Leland wanted $15,000 but only half was paid. Leland was allegedly recording saying he bottled up that land sale in one of the council committees Leland chairs for the businessman in exchange for the money.

Elisa Grubbs is accused of being the go-between in the case; she's ready to plea guilty.

Fishman said the government has stacked the deck against Leland and believes he can show the allegations are not as they appear.

"We're going to trial and if that doesn't say 'I'm innocent,' I don't know what else you can do about it. You know what I mean? Cases over here are 95 percent resulting in guilty pleas. This will be a jury trial as sure as we are standing here," Fishman said.

Leland had to give up his passport and some guns he inherited from his father, the late Wayne County Commission member Burton Leland.

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