Detroit City Councilmember Gabe Leland's mouth, circa 2013.
Details of the public corruption probe into a big trash guy, a big towing guy, and a gang of public officials the big men appear to have used as pawns to help grow their respective empires have been hard to swallow.
It's embarrassing when a deputy Detroit police chief tasked with enforcing laws pleads guilty to taking a few grand from a towing guy the DPD contracts with. It's frustrating to hear a Detroit city councilmember may have used his political standing to dig up info on a covert police investigation in an effort to help his girlfriend's dad.
But here's to Charlie LeDuff for helping take some of the edge off.
The journalist brings FBI wiretap transcripts to life in a story published yesterday on Deadline Detroit
, picking up some juicy scraps left behind by other Detroit media outlets along the way. And while we can't confirm that the details pulled from the once-unsealed, now-resealed court documents are 100 hundred precent accurate (LeDuff, for example, at one point characterizes a guy clamoring for an extra $20 bucks as "whining") — the added color sure makes for great entertainment.
If you're not caught up, the big towing guy is Gasper Fiore, who last month pleaded guilty to bribery. Detroit City Councilmember Gabe Leland dated his daughter and, according to the FBI, fed the family information on the towing investigation. He also approved contracts benefiting the family's businesses.
Rather than us try to summarize the stuff LeDuff dug up on Fiore's feelings about Leland and his dad's eating habits and alleged cheapness, we suggest you head on over to Deadline Detroit
to read the 1,000-word
exposé for yourself.
For now, we leave you with what we've deemed the most LOL-worthy tidbit:
Fiore then launched into a story about the atrocious table manners of Leland's father, Burton, a longtime politico and Wayne County commissioner. The father and son, it seems, were holding a political fundraiser at a downtown restaurant.
Fiore arrived late, contribution check in pocket, but the party was over. Commissioner Leland and his wife, however, were still there. And they were hungry.
Fiore invited the couple to a restaurant next door, where a business associate named Phil was dining.
"So they come up there," Fiore recounted to his daughter. "Phil's eating. They start eating lamb chops off his plate."
Reached by phone in Florida, Burt Leland said he did not recall if he scavenged from another man's plate. "But if that's what it says I did, then I did."
Yes, LeDuff called Burton Leland to fact check that one. In the process, he may have received more than he bargained for:
"Look, Gabe has a very active libido," Leland informed me. "She just happened to be Gasper's daughter, okay? He wasn't sleeping with Gasper. It's guilt by association, I'm telling you."