US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers' wife, who sits on the Detroit City Council, pled guilty yesterday to taking a bribe from a Texas-based company:
Prosecutors said Friday that Monica Conyers accepted two payments in late 2007 to support a city contract that would pay $47 million to Texas-based Synagro Technologies to recycle wastewater sludge and build a modern incinerator in Detroit. The council voted 5-4 to approve the deal, with Conyers supplying the decisive vote.Synagro is based in Houston and one of its employees is expected to take a plea deal on Monday, but there are also a couple of ugly Dallas cases worthy of note. At the Dallas school district:
Yikes! Losing $150 million in stimulus money is a damn harsh penalty for the school district. Meanwhile, it looks like the couple accused of bribing state Rep. Terri Hodge and a host of other Dallas officials may have cut a deal with prosecutors. If so, that will certainly put the squeeze on the remaining defendants in the Dallas city hall corruption case scheduled to run for the next six to eight weeks.
Federal authorities say the cash-strapped Dallas school district has agreed to financial penalties to settle claims that it abused a government program that provides Internet access to lower-income schools.
The settlement announced Friday requires the district to abandon more than $150 million in requests for federal funding and pay $750,000. The district faces a $30 million budget shortfall.
The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dallas say the school district engaged in noncompetitive bidding practices and accepted improper gifts from vendors, including free use of a yacht.
Employees at the San Antonio Housing Authority this month were indicted for allegedly taking kickbacks from contractors.
Finally, in El Paso the distict clerk has been indicted for bribery; prosecutors say he accepted cash and a trip to Vegas from a local attorney allegedly "to rig bid specifications on a proposed $53 million county contract." One of his employees, a county commissioner, and the former chief of staff for the county judge have already taken plea deals as a result of the FBI investigation.
Obviously those who've not pled or been convicted must continue to receive the benefit of a presumption of innocence, but there's a lot of smoke here for there not to be some fire and on its face these problems seem awfully widespread.
Seriously, this would be a great niche blog topic. I'm pretty full up with my own self-assigned beat, but I'd sure like to see some energetic blogger take up the mantle.