City Councilman Leland caught on secret FBI wiretap discussing $15,000 bribe at strip club


Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland. - CITY OF DETROIT
  • City of Detroit
  • Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland.

Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland has long maintained his innocence amid bribery allegations, but a secret FBI recording shows otherwise.

Leland met Detroit businessman Bob Carmack at a west-side strip club in May 2017, where they hammered out details of a $15,000 payment, according to a recording obtained by The Detroit Free Press.

Carmack was wearing an FBI wiretap when the pair met over screwdrivers, vodka soda, and lemon drop shots.

According to the FBI, Leland agreed to accept two $7,500 payments in exchange for his role in preventing the city’s sale of property Carmack said he owned.

“I’ll give it to you in a fucking cashier check or a money order. That way you can do whatever the fuck you want with it,” Carmack tells Leland in the recording.

With a camera hidden in a van and Carmack wired, the businessman paid $7,500 in cash provided by the FBI to one of Leland’s staffers. Leland never received the other $7,500.

Instead, Leland was indicted in October 2018 on two counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. On July 17, the case was kicked to state court, where the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office charged him with misconduct in office, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. According to the charging document, Leland "accepted payments of money to influence his vote on certain city matters” between Jan. 1 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018.

Leland, who still serves on the city council, is expected to plead guilty, at which point he will be forced to resign from public office.

Carmack told the Free Press he decided to go to the FBI after Leland was pestering him for money while his father was dying.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.