DETROIT — A federal judge has denied ex-Detroit councilwoman Monica Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea in a corruption case and sentenced her to three years and one month in prison.
Conyers suggested she was the victim of “badgering” last summer when she acknowledged a conspiracy to take bribes for her support of a Houston company seeking a sludge contract.
“I would like to withdraw my plea. I should not get jail for something I didn’t do,” she said.
But U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said Wednesday her plea deal was voluntary on her behalf.
“Bribery is a betrayal of trust,” Cohn told Conyers after announcing a 37-month prison term for her “egregious” crime.
“I do apologize for things I did do, but I don’t feel in my heart that I should take the blame for things I did not do,” Conyers said in court. “I’m not going to be made a scapegoat. The newspapers are pressuring you to make an example of me.”
Conyers revealed in court that Cohn had earlier ordered that she see a psychiatrist. She said the doctor had an opinion as to why she pleaded guilty.
But Cohn replied, “These are matters the public has no need to know. There was nothing in the letter to suggest any basis to withdraw the plea.”
Conyers will also be supervised for two years following the completion of her prison time. She was not fined.
As guards cleared the courtroom, Conyers yelled that she planned to appeal. She then left the courthouse through a side door, without making a comment.
She is scheduled to report to prison no earlier than July 1. Outside the court, Conyers’ minister spoke briefly with reporters.
“I was praying for her when she was elected, I’m praying for her now. I’m praying for her family — her sons, her mother,” said Robert Jones, of the Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church. “I pray that her strength, her faith, are going to bring her through this.”
The federal government had recommended that Conyers get 46 to 57 months in prison.