Southfield — Something was worrying political consultant Sam Riddle in 2007 as he discussed bribes with Southfield Councilman William Lattimore in connection with a pawn shop relocation.
But it wasn’t getting caught by the FBI, Lattimore told The Detroit News as he prepared to head to prison.
It was: “Don’t tell Monica,” Lattimore said.
Riddle, jailed on a state domestic assault conviction, awaits sentencing in federal court after admitting he helped his one-time boss, former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, shake down businesses seeking action from the Detroit City Council and a city pension fund. Conyers is to start serving a 37-month bribery sentence in September.
Riddle “did not want Monica to know what he was doing … out here in Southfield, because if she did, of course Monica would want some of that loot,” Lattimore said.
Lattimore said it was wrong and shameful of him to take $12,500 from Riddle, the political consultant hired by Zeidman’s Jewelry and Loan owner Thomas Labret to help get approvals to move his pawn shop from one Southfield location to another. He said he takes full responsibility for his actions and apologizes for them.
But, in an interview, Lattimore also claimed:
• The pawn shop owner, Labret, knew Riddle was paying off Lattimore and should have been criminally charged.
• Riddle knew or strongly suspected his cell phone was tapped by the FBI, but recklessly put himself and others at risk by continuing to use it to discuss illicit deals.
• Former state Rep. Mary Waters, who introduced Lattimore to Riddle, “has been completely bamboozled” by the man convicted of pulling a shotgun on her shortly before Christmas.
Lattimore, 56, hasn’t been told where he will serve his 18-month sentence or when he must turn himself in. “I never thought in my life I would ever see prison,” he said.
For half a century, he maneuvered a minefield of potential criminal pitfalls.
His younger brother Aaron went to work for Young Boys Inc., became a heroin addict, and died in Jackson prison in 1998.
After graduating from Henry Ford High School and attending the University of Detroit, Lattimore opened a
popular Jefferson Avenue nightclub, My Fair Lady, where he rebuffed offers to launder money.
He was a business agent for the Teamsters while they were under federal scrutiny.
And in 2002 he was working for the late Wayne County Executive Edward H. McNamara inside the Old Wayne County Building when the FBI raided the place as part of a corruption investigation.
Despite all that, Lattimore led an “exemplary life” until he took the bribes in 2007, U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani said when she sentenced him in June.
“I’ve had so many opportunities to go sideways,” Lattimore said. “I was always that kid who walked away from trouble.”
Until he met Riddle.