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Topic: Jeff Wright alleged FBI confidential informant Riddle case

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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The court filing also states that:

• Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright was a confidential FBI source in the Riddle investigation and secretly made at least one recorded phone conversation between him and Riddle. Wright did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Last Updated: May 12. 2010 2:14PM
Court filings show FBI taped conversations between Riddle, journalist
Paul Egan / The Detroit News
Detroit -- An attorney for former state representative Mary Waters is alleging government irregularities and misrepresentations in obtaining the telephone wiretaps used to indict her and co-defendant Sam Riddle in a Southfield bribery case.

In a court filing today, attorney Richard Convertino argues the FBI and federal prosecutors continued to tap Sam Riddle's cell phone when the taps were providing no evidence of the alleged crimes they were purportedly investigating. He also alleges the FBI knew it recorded repeated calls between Riddle and Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor Bankole Thompson but falsely described Thompson in a wiretap affidavit as "an unknown male."

Convertino argued that because of First Amendment protections, higher U.S. Justice Department approval was required but not sought to record conversations between Riddle and a journalist, particularly when he says there was no evidence of criminal discussions or activity in the recorded call

A "snippet" of one of the Riddle-Thompson phone calls was used in a government affidavit to extend the Riddle wiretap, Convertino said.

"As fruits of the poisonous tree, it is clear that without these illegal wiretaps, the government would not have had any evidence from which to derive .... the purported bribe(s) of Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore," Convertino says in a motion to dismiss the indictment against Waters.

"The government would have had no evidence to even open an investigation of Defendant Mary Waters, much less charge her."

Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit, said "our office has no comment at this time," but will file a response to Convertino's motions.

Waters and Riddle, her former live-in companion, are set to go to trial June 1 on allegations they bribed Lattimore in connection with a pawn shop relocation in Southfield. Lattimore, who no longer sits on the council, has already pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

The court filing also states that:

• Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright was a confidential FBI source in the Riddle investigation and secretly made at least one recorded phone conversation between him and Riddle. Wright did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

• Paul Bruno, a prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, told federal authorities in June 2006 that Waters said at a dinner party that she believed Wendolyn Johnson, a paralegal in the U.S. Attorney's Office who was dating Riddle, was leaking government information to Riddle. In June 2007, when the FBI sought a wiretap of Riddle in connection with its investigation of Johnson, Waters, who worked in the county prosecutor's office from 2007 to 2009, was cited as an unnamed, "unwitting source."

• The government suspected Johnson of feeding Riddle information about federal investigations of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his former chief of staff Christine Beatty, former Detroit Public Schools consultant Sherry Washington, and others, although Convertino argues the transcripts of the wiretaps seldom if ever show Johnson disclosed to Riddle information she should not have. Johnson was suspended from her job while the U.S Attorney's Office in Grand Rapids conducted an investigation, but has never been charged.

• One of the Riddle-Lattimore phone conversations the government plans to introduce as evidence was recorded at a time when a judge has ruled the wiretap was not lawfully authorized. The government knew that when it placed the phone call on its exhibit list in the Southfield case, Convertino argues.

Gerald Evelyn, a Detroit attorney representing Johnson, said she is appealing her suspension without pay through the civil service process but has received no word that the government has wrapped up its investigation of her.

"She didn't leak any information to him," Evelyn said of Johnson, referring to Riddle.

The court filing describes an instance in which Wright, the drain commissioner, was used to help investigate Riddle and Johnson.

In June 2007, former Cobo Center director Glenn Blanton was cooperating with the FBI after prosecutors had evidence he took illegal payments from former Cobo contractor Karl Kado. But Blanton had not yet been charged and his cooperation with the FBI was not publicly known.

The FBI had Wright make a secretly recorded call to Riddle and ask him to check out Blanton, who Wright told Riddle was identifying himself as a consultant.

According to the court filing, Riddle later spoke to Johnson on the phone and asked if he should avoid Blanton, who replied, "umm-hmm."

Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle, said he never received a notice from the Justice Department that his conversations with Riddle were secretly recorded, but he is not overly concerned that they were.

Thompson said he and Riddle discussed Sherry Washington after the Michigan Chronicle broke a story about a contract Washington had with the Detroit Public Schools. Washington, her sister Gwendolyn, and former Detroit Public Schools risk management official Stephen Hill were recently indicted on bribery-related charges.

pegan@detnews.com (313) 222-2069
Post Wed May 12, 2010 4:40 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Could this be why Wright got a soft landing on the bribery and money-laundering charges that came up in the Blake Rizzo case?
Post Wed May 12, 2010 5:13 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright was confidential FBI source, according to court filing
By Flint Journal staff
May 12, 2010, 7:42PM
DETROIT, Michigan — A lawyer for the ex-girlfriend of a Detroit political consultant with Flint ties claims that Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright was a confidential FBI source.

Jeff Wright
In court papers filed in Detroit on Wednesday, attorney Richard Convertino said Wright called Sam Riddle at the direction of the FBI and asked Riddle to check out a man named Glen Blanton, who was advertising himself as a consultant.

Wright declined comment on the filing Wednesday night and said he planned to issue a statement Thursday morning.

The court filing claims that Wright was working with the FBI on June 22, 2007, when Wright allegedly called Riddle about Blanton, who the Detroit News idenitifed as the former director of Cobo Center in Detroit.

The filing said Wright didn’t know anyone who had been in contact with Blanton but had been told by the FBI to state that fact.

Wright was identifed as “Source-3,” according to the filing.

The Detroit News reported Wednesday that Richard Convertino filed a motion in federal court claiming irregularities in how the government got wiretaps that eventually led to Mary Waters’ indictment in a bribery case.

Waters, a former state representative, and Riddle are co-defendants. The trial starts June 1.
Convertino said the government plans to use a conversation between Riddle and a former Southfield councilman at the trial. He said a judge already has ruled there was no lawful authorization for the wiretap.

Federal prosecutors said they will file a response to Convertino’s motion.

Riddle was tried in February in a Detroit corruption case that ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked on a verdict.

A retrial in that case is set for July.

Information from wire reports were used in this article.
Post Wed May 12, 2010 7:56 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

I spoke to Sam Riddle and he reminded me that he allegedly was offered under-the-table money in 2000 to run a second campaign for Wright in the black community during the race between Wright and Hardin. That campaign, run by the late John Hightower, was featured by then Channel 5 reporter Kiertzner when the campaign alleged they raised their money in Detroit. Kiertzner interviewed the reported donors who stated they would never contribute to someone in another county and denied they knew Wright. Hightower received a $6,000 fine.
Post Wed May 12, 2010 8:04 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Sam Riddle paid by Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright's office for water pipeline project
By Kristin Longley | Flint Journal
May 13, 2010, 5:28PM
GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan — Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright hired Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle three years ago as a paid advisor for the county's water pipeline project, officials said today.


The consulting work was done in 2007, at or about the time Wright was asked to cooperate with the FBI in a Detroit public corruption investigation that included Riddle.


Riddle said today that he helped Wright's office as it worked on the plan to create a Genesee County water system that is independent from Detroit's water system — a pet project of Wright's that has been gaining momentum locally.


Riddle was paid about $1,000 a month for six months as a "facilitator" for the project, helping Wright's office navigate the "ins and outs" of Detroit city government, said John O'Brien, director of the water & waste services division of the drain commissioner's office.


Court filings revealed Wednesday that the FBI asked Wright to secretly record a phone call to Riddle in 2007.


Wright issued a short statement today confirming that he had been contacted by the FBI and he agreed to help them.


Wright said he can't comment further on the case because the federal investigation is ongoing.


Court filings indicated Wright was a confidential FBI source known as "Source-3" in the federal bribery probe in which Riddle and his ex-girlfriend, former state representative Mary Waters, are co-defendants.


The court documents were filed by Waters' attorney, Richard Convertino, who claimed there were irregularities in how the government got the wiretaps that eventually led to Waters’ indictment in the bribery case.


Riddle said today that he's suspicious of why Wright was approached by the FBI.


"Normally the FBI does not have one serve as an informant unless that individual has what we call on the streets as weight on them," Riddle said. "To that end, all I can say for the record is I don't know what the FBI has on him but my experience leads me to believe they have something."


As for the court filing that claims Wright agreed to record a conversation with Riddle for the investigation, Riddle said it was an unwarranted intrusion on his privacy.


"I don't lose any flag with punks that want to serve as informants," Riddle said. "I just keep rolling on straight ahead."



Wright could not be reached for comment this afternoon on the work Riddle did for the county.


O'Brien said Riddle helped move the water pipeline project along.


"It gave us the ability to move it quicker through just because he knew all the processes to take," he said. "He was teaching us how to cut the tape."

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Post Thu May 13, 2010 5:37 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Blogs, Photos & Videos
Former Genesee County prosecutor Art Busch: Several scenarios possible in connecting Wright and FBI
By Ron Fonger | Flint Journal
May 13, 2010, 4:35PM
Flint Journal file photoArthur BuschGENESEE COUNTY -- Former county prosecutor Arthur Busch says there are several possible ways that county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright became a confidential source for the FBI.


But there's one thing Busch feels certain of: "I'm sure of one thing. Jeff Wright didn't do it out of civic duty."


Wright was identified in federal court documents this week as a confidential informant for the FBI and said today that he agreed to assist the agency in its public corruption investigation of Flint native Sam Riddle.


Busch said he turned over information about Wright's alleged connection to former Burton developer Blake Rizzo to the FBI after a public corruption investigation he helped carry out in 2004.


Busch said Rizzo told him he had paid a company connected to Wright as a way to funnel money elsewhere. Busch said he never believed there was enough evidence to charge Wright with money laundering or any other crime under state law.


The former prosecutor said he turned the information he had over to federal investigators and left duplicate information in a bankers box for incoming Prosecutor David Leyton with a note that wished him well.


Wright may have agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as a result of that investigation or may have gone to agency if he was approached by Riddle and "didn't want to get tangled up in anything," Busch said.


"There's a lot more to the story" than Wright said in a written statement today, Busch said.


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Thu May 13, 2010 5:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Thu May 13, 2010 5:43 pm 
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terrybankert
F L I N T O I D

I have said this before. It is my hunch that there has been a focus among those that want to benefit at the tax payers expense on the watrer project for the last 25 years. I have no Idea who is doing what and I have no knowledge of criminal activity. With the magnitude of the cost of this project we must insist on transparency and accountability.

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Post Thu May 13, 2010 5:46 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Bribery case may snowball
By The Flint Journal
December 24, 2004, 4:25AM
BURTON, Michigan -- Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur A. Busch hinted Thursday that there might soon be more developments in the case in which a developer accused city and county officials of public corruption.
Busch suggested the developments could come before the end of his term Dec. 31, but would not comment about whether that means charges would be filed against public officials.

"Stay tuned. I think you can read the tea leaves, " Busch said.

Several officials were accused in court transcripts filed with Central District Court of accepting bribes from Burton developer Blake Rizzo. The transcripts were filed after Rizzo accepted a plea deal Wednesday to settle an insurance fraud case against him.

The transcripts containing the claims were from an Oct. 30, 2003, Rizzo interview with Busch and police investigators.

Rizzo, who pleaded to misdemeanor insurance fraud and bribery, agreed to talk with investigators about the corruption case to reduce four felony charges he was facing to misdemeanors. The felony charges could have netted him 28 years in prison.

Named as taking bribes from Rizzo were Burton Mayor Charles Smiley, City Administrator Charles Abbey, Genesee County Drain CommissionerJeffrey Wright and Burton Councilman Bob Centilli.

Smiley, Wright and Centilli deny the claims; Abbey could not be reached for comment.

The Flint Journal could not reach Rizzo or his attorney, Michael Manley, for comment Thursday afternoon.

The two bribery cases Rizzo was charged with related to Smiley and Abbey. The bribery charge related to Abbey was dismissed, and the one related to Smiley was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Smiley is accused in the transcripts of accepting "tens of thousands" of dollars in bribes from Rizzo in exchange for favorable treatment from the mayor on Rizzo's projects.

Busch said FBI officials know about the case, but he declined to say whether they are contributing to the investigation.

Meanwhile, David Leyton, who will take over Busch's job in 2005, said he likely would turn any investigation of the case over to the state attorney general's office.

"We're just not equipped to handle it, " Leyton said. "It would take thousands of man-hours, and with budget cuts, we just don't have that kind of staff."

Leyton said he also personally knows some of the people mentioned in the transcripts, such as political consultant Ken McArdle, Smiley and Wright, so it could be a conflict of interest for him to take on the case.

McArdle worked on Leyton's 2004 campaign.

Rizzo accused Smiley and Wright of having Rizzo pay for McArdle's services for their campaigns - $5,000 each for Smiley's campaigns in 1999 and 1995 and $5,000 or $10,000 for Wright's campaign in 2000.

McArdle said Thursday that the charges are untrue.

"Rizzo hasn't paid me any money to run Smiley's campaigns, " McArdle said. "Rizzo did ask me to get ahold of Jeff Wright (in 2000), but I ended up not working on Wright's campaign."

McArdle said he doesn't believe the bribery accusations against Smiley.

"Smiley is an awful good administrator, and I'm sure that Rizzo was willing to say anything, " McArdle said.

In the transcript, Rizzo also accused Wright of laundering $30,000 of the developer's money for campaign purposes through Wright's now-defunct Tara-Aqua Corp. Wright said during a news conference Thursday that the money was for legitimate consulting work he did for Rizzo, and he would turn over company records that detail the work if investigators request them.

Busch said he supports the decision to shift the investigation to the state attorney general's office, and said he's already talked with Attorney General Mike Cox about the case. Busch declined to detail the conversation he had with Cox.

Officials with the attorney general's office could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Post Thu May 13, 2010 6:01 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

FBI seizes Wright's campaign ledger from county
By The Flint Journal
September 28, 2005, 4:01AM
GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan -- An FBI agent removed county Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright's campaign finance documents from the countyclerk's office Monday as part of a federal public corruption investigation, a county official confirmed.
Rob Coffman, county elections supervisor, said records dating back to the 2000 election, when Wright first ran for office, were removed for a grand jury investigation. The agent had a federal subpoena to remove the records, he said.

"An agent came in and spent an hour going through documents in the morning. In the afternoon, he came back and took the entire file, " Coffman said.

Coffman said he made copies of the records so that the clerk's office would still have them available.

Wright has been accused of money laundering by developer Blake Rizzo. Rizzo also accused Burton Mayor Charles Smiley, City Administrator Charles Abbey and Councilman Bob Centilli of bribery. All officials have denied any wrongdoing.

Coffman said there was no indication by the FBI agent whether Wright was a target in the investigation.

"They didn't interview us or ask any questions, " Coffman said.

Wright said he was unaware that the FBI retrieved the records, and no records have been removed from his office.

"It's news to me, " Wright said. "They're doing their due diligence."

Wright declined to comment further.

Rizzo pleaded to reduced insurance fraud and bribery charges earlier this year in exchange for cooperating in the public corruption investigation.

Former Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur Busch and other law enforcement officials interviewed Rizzo, and a transcript of that interview was made public in December.

Federal authorities have remained mum on the status of the investigation.

This summer, agents removed records relating to Rizzo's residential developments in Burton from Burton city offices.
Post Thu May 13, 2010 6:04 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Sam Riddle paid by Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright's office for water pipeline project
By Kristin Longley | Flint Journal
May 13, 2010, 5:28PM
GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan — Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright hired Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle three years ago as a paid advisor for the county's water pipeline project, officials said today.


The consulting work was done in 2007, at or about the time Wright was asked to cooperate with the FBI in a Detroit public corruption investigation that included Riddle.


Riddle said today that he helped Wright's office as it worked on the plan to create a Genesee County water system that is independent from Detroit's water system — a pet project of Wright's that has been gaining momentum locally.


Riddle was paid about $1,000 a month for six months as a "facilitator" for the project, helping Wright's office navigate the "ins and outs" of Detroit city government, said John O'Brien, director of the water & waste services division of the drain commissioner's office.


(UPDATE: County commissioners say they didn't know.)


Court filings revealed Wednesday that the FBI asked Wright to secretly record a phone call to Riddle in 2007.


Wright issued a short statement today confirming that he had been contacted by the FBI and he agreed to help them.


Wright said he can't comment further on the case because the federal investigation is ongoing.


Court filings indicated Wright was a confidential FBI source known as "Source-3" in the federal bribery probe in which Riddle and his ex-girlfriend, former state representative Mary Waters, are co-defendants.


The court documents were filed by Waters' attorney, Richard Convertino, who claimed there were irregularities in how the government got the wiretaps that eventually led to Waters’ indictment in the bribery case.


Riddle said today that he's suspicious of why Wright was approached by the FBI.


"Normally the FBI does not have one serve as an informant unless that individual has what we call on the streets as weight on them," Riddle said. "To that end, all I can say for the record is I don't know what the FBI has on him but my experience leads me to believe they have something."


As for the court filing that claims Wright agreed to record a conversation with Riddle for the investigation, Riddle said it was an unwarranted intrusion on his privacy.


"I don't lose any flag with punks that want to serve as informants," Riddle said. "I just keep rolling on straight ahead."



Wright could not be reached for comment this afternoon on the work Riddle did for the county.


O'Brien said Riddle helped move the water pipeline project along.


"It gave us the ability to move it quicker through just because he knew all the processes to take," he said. "He was teaching us how to cut the tape."
Post Fri May 14, 2010 7:22 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

This issue is coming up again with the Flint water crisis/

Wright fought the water pipeline in 1998-2000 when the estimated cost was $270 million. Now the cost is $80 to $100 million more/
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:59 am 
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