Detroit councilman Andre Spivey pleads guilty in bribery charge involving towing contracts

Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey has pleaded guilty to accepting more than $35,000 to influence towing contracts, two months after he was indicted on the charge.

Spivey, 47, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bribery on Tuesday and will leave City Council. Spivey could get up to five years in prison after admitting to the bribe. Federal investigators say this was part of Operation Northern Hook, a wide-ranging corruption investigation into city officials and police departments. 

According to the federal indictment obtained by FOX 2, Spivey and another public official (identified in records as ‘Public Official A’) accepted the bribe payments between 2016 and 2020. Spivey admitted to meeting with an undercover agent and confidential source at the Side Street Diner in Grosse Pointe and accepting $1,000 in cash from the undercover agent and another $1,000 from the source. 

The payments were made to Spivey in exchange for his assistance with a proposed towing ordinance that was pending before the City Council.

"He will tender his resignation letter tomorrow," said his attorney Elliot Hall, who declined to say why he took the money. 

Spivey didn't take questions entering court Tuesday and left quickly to avoid the media.

The indictment stated that, on Oct. 26, 2018, Spivey took the bribes with the intent of being influenced and rewarded in connection to upcoming votes on the Detroit City Council and in subcommittees of the council concerning an industry that was under review by the council.

In another exchange, the named "Public Official A" received $12,000 in cash from the source and agent to give to Spivey for his help with the towing issues. 

The indictment also stated that in each of the years of the alleged conspiracy, Detroit received $10,000 in federal assistance.

"This was a confidential informant used by the government to influence or try to influence Mr. Spivey by giving him money," Hall said. 

In all the confidential source and undercover agent paid out almost $36,000 for a towing contract Spivey never voted on.

"Yes - your honor - he took the money - but he never acted on it," Hall said. "We've been cooperating with the government for a year and a half - the only name mentioned was (councilman) Mr. (Scott) Benson."

So far the feds have executed towing-related search warrants at the offices of Scott Benson and Janee Ayers - but neither has been charged.

"We come up and elect our officials expecting them to be honest and sometimes they go astray," Hall said. "But in this particular case, despite the fact that Mr. Spivey took money - my bottom line has been from day one that he never violated the public trust."

Spivey is expected to be sentenced to 3 to 4 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 for the crime. He's set to be sentenced on Jan. 19 and is expected to resign from the office of City Council as a result of his plea.