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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Businessman gets 5 years in Synagro case
[reprinted under fair use]
 Nov. 13, 2009 | Updated: 5:07 p.m. Nov. 13, 2009
"Businessman gets 5 years in Synagro case

 Detroit businessman Rayford Jackson, a key figure in the Synagro sludge-hauling scandal in Detroit, was sentenced this afternoon to the maximum prison sentence he could receive under his guilty plea -- five years.

Jackson, 44, had previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit bribery before U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, who today rejected a request from Jackson’s lawyer that he be given only two years in prison.

Defense lawyer Richard Morgan said that Synagro “should be standing here, and they’re not.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta disputed defense claims that Jackson was somehow lured into the bribery scheme. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told the judge. He also challenged the claim that, for all its notoriety, the now-canceled Synagro contract with the city would have ultimately benefited Detroiters. “It was all about Rayford Jackson,” Bullotta said. "He stood to make millions.”

In dispensing the maximum sentence, Judge Cohn noted with displeasure the defendant’s refusal to acknowledge his wrongdoing, even after he admitted to his misdeeds. “Mr. Jackson has not displayed contrition and remorse and he has not apologized,” Cohn said.

But the judge added, Jackson, who has refused to cooperate with investigators in the ongoing probe, still has an opportunity to improve his fate. He instructed Jackson that if he decides to cooperate with the feds within the first year of his prison term, the length of his sentence could be revisited.

“There’s still an opportunity for you to express contrition and remorse in the form of cooperation,” he said.

Jackson, a flashy entrepreneur who traveled through Detroit political circles with an attractive young television anchorwoman on his arm, arrived in court this afternoon dapper – and silent – as ever. He wore a dark, double-breasted pinstriped suit and a black bowler with a jaunty feather, which he wore into the courtroom.

Bullotta said Jackson “and Jackson alone decided to bribe Monica Conyers,” the former Detroit city councilwoman who herself is awaiting sentencing in January for her role in the Synagro scandal.

Bullotta said the evidence showed Jackson was operating actively and independently because he did not tell disgraced Synagro official James Rosendall about bribing Conyers until after Jackson had done so. Jackson, the prosecutor said, operated out of “pure greed.”

Jackson is slated to report to prison on Jan. 15.

After the verdict, U.S. District Attorney Terrence Berg said, “I hope this will be a deterrent to anyone considering any type of similar conduct in the form of bribing public officials.”

After issuing the sentence, Cohn took time to commend the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office and likened their efforts to Hercules, who in Greek mythology cleaned the stables of Augean stables full of thousands of cattle in a single day."

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