By Kaitlyn Schallhorn, ,
Published July 17, 2018
A Michigan lawmaker is accused of asking for free alcohol and food from a bar in exchange for political favors, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
The co-owner of Centre Park Bar -- which has since shut down -- accused Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland of offering to help the bar with multiple issues it faced, including tickets for violations. In exchange, the lawsuit alleged, Leland requested free food, drinks and admittance into parties for himself and a friend, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The offer was unsolicited, according to the lawsuit.
Leland told Centre Park co-owner Kenneth Scott Bridgewater that it was “normal practice” for restaurants in Detroit to provide free services to city officials “upon request,” according to the suit.
Bridgewater complied, and Leland received more than $5,000 in food and drinks and ran up bar tabs with his friends that at times exceeded $200, the lawsuit claims.
“Bridgewater feared that if he did not honor Defendant Leland’s demands that Defendant Leland would make sure that Centre Park Bar would continue to be ticketed and closed,” the lawsuit stated.
This isn’t the first time that Leland has been accused of extortion.
In March, Bob Carmack, owner of an auto repair shop, alleged that Leland asked him for $15,000 in exchange for help with a property dispute between Carmack and the city, WJBK-TV reported. Carmack said he wore a wire and recorded conversations that backed up his allegation and subsequent lawsuit.
At the time, Leland’s attorney told WJBK that the accusations were a “blatant lie” with “absolutely no basis for it in fact.”
In January, Leland was part of an FBI probe into a Detroit towing mogul. Leland dated Gasper Fiore’s daughter, Jennifer, and was caught on an FBI wiretap seeming willing to provide the Fiore family with information pertinent to the business, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Leland has not been charged with a crime, but Fiore has pleaded guilty to bribing a different elected official and faces up to five years behind bars, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Anyone that questions my integrity as a result of any personal relationship is also mistaken,” Leland previously told the newspaper. “My personal relationships have never gotten in the way of my responsibilities as a councilman.”
Prior to representing the 7th District, Leland served in the Michigan state House.
He did not respond to a request for comment on the latest allegations from Fox News.