Councilman Gabe Leland arraigned in Macomb County corruption case

- Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland was in federal court Monday arraigned on charges of bribery and conspiracy.

"I'm innocent and I'm looking forward to trial. that's my comment," said Leland.

That's Councilman Gabe Leland, making a more definitive declaration of innocence after his arraignment in federal court - than he was willing to make after last week's city council meeting.

Last week Gabe Leland said "As you well know, I'm innocent until I'm proven guilty. So that's my statement until further notice."

Leland deferred further comment to his attorney, Steve Fishman. Fishman says the media has made a lot of hay since Leland was indicted on bribery charges earlier this month, but he says no one has made a lot of sense.

"The interesting thing is none of the people who are opining to you guys know (s--t) from shinola about the facts of this case," Fishman said.

Leland did not have much to say in court, where a federal magistrate entered a plea of not guilty plea on his behalf.

There was one small surprise during the otherwise pro forma arraignment when Leland was ordered to surrender his weapons. That is common condition for people let out on bond before their trial, but it caught the prosecution off-guard.

Fishman later explained that Leland, like many Detroiters, has weapons to defend his home. Now, Fishman says it's time for him to concentrate on defending Leland so he can stay at that home.

The alternative isn't very nice; the charges against the councilman carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. It's very early, but it looks like a major part of Fishman's strategy will be to undermine the credibility of the Detroit businessman I interviewed who claimed he wore a wife for the FBI and recorded Leland shaking him down for a $15,000 bribe.

"I just believe in let's go to court and we'll have a trial with a judge and a jury and the same witness who sat for the softball interview will get crossed examined," Fishman said. "And I can guarantee you it won't be softball questions on cross examination."
 

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