A federal judge told a packed court room Monday in Detroit that Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver wrote a letter of support for disgraced UAW official Norwood Jewell.
Posted on August 5, 2019
BY MIKE KILLBREATH
CCN Executive Editor
Flint's mayor identified by federal judge for writing letter of support for disgraced UAW official Jewell who is now headed to prison
DETROIT (CCN) — Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver was identified by a federal judge Monday afternoon as one of several prominent people who wrote a letter of support for disgraced former UAW leader Norwood Jewell. The revelation came as voters head to the polls on Tuesday to decide her fate in a hotly-contested primary race to keep her job as mayor.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman revealed the letters prior to the sentencing proceedings Monday for Jewell. His defense attorney, Mike Manley, made a passionate plea for probation or home confinement when citing all the many letters of support noted by Judge Borman.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey noted, however, that not a single UAW member wrote a letter of support except Jewell's son and step-son. He said the letters only came from people who were able to benefit from money of hard-working union members that was given to them by Jewell. Gardey said Jewell was building support for a run at the UAW's top post. He rose up the ranks in Flint from line worker in the 1970's to become Executive Director at Region 1C, before 2014 when becoming one of three Vice Presidents at the international office in Detroit.
Gardey argued for a 15-month prison sentence by describing Jewell as corrupt with no sense of remorse over stealing money of the union members who trusted him to lead them.
Mayor Weaver's letter came along with others from Rev. Alfred Harris who is President of Flint's Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint Democrat Jim Ananich who is Senate Minority Leader. A letter of support for Jewell was also written by Mayor Weaver's chief aide Aoine Gilcreast's wife, Frances Gilcreast who is President of Flint's chapter of the NAACP.
State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, who is a candidate to unseat Mayor Weaver, wasn't among the local elected officials who wrote letters of support for Jewell. Two others running against the mayor in Tuesday's primary (businessmen Don Pfeiffer and Gregory Eason) also chose not to offer support for Jewell.
A tidal wave of social media comments by supporters of the three challengers have been critical of the mayor's decision to support Jewell after he admitted to felony activity as a top UAW official. Many of the comments took aim at local media in the Metro Flint area that ignored the story while every Detroit newspaper, TV station and radio station made mention of the mayor's letter for Jewell.
Some suggest it's the latest in a series of PR gaffes by her campaign team. Mayor Weaver chose a "no comment" approach to national headlines alleging bid rigging scandals and reacted to allegations of stealing donations intended for Flint residents during the water crisis by telling The Morning Gazette Radio Show: "Refer to federal court transcripts."
Mayor Weaver testified in federal court that she was hoping to use a 527 fund set up by Detroit law firm Miller Canfield "as a way to Gil (Aoine Gilcreast) paid" since he had been working for months without any compensation. Gilcreast was the architect of her campaign strategy to unseat former Mayor Dayne Walling and is her top adviser, according to multiple sources inside Flint City Hall.
Two other former city executives (former City Administrator Natasha Henderson and ex CFO Jody Linquist) testified during Henderson's whistleblower lawsuit that an employee close to the mayor had alerted Henderson and then City Attorney Anthony Chubb of pressure by Gilcreast on behalf of the mayor to divert donations to the 527 fund for their use. Chubb testified he never told the mayor about the e-mail warning from Henderson about what she alleged was illegal activity. A jury used Chubb's testimony to rule Henderson wasn't fired by the mayor because of her whistleblower claim if the mayor never knew about it.
It was also revealed during the Henderson trial that Chubb was paid $56,000 in his exit from the job he held for only a few short months, compared to a much smaller severance payment to his former boss (Peter Bade) who served more than nine years on the job.
Not called to testify in the federal whistleblower lawsuit was Ellis Stafford, a retired State Police inspector and former top investigator with former Attorney General Bill Schuette's prosecution team in the Flint water crisis. He appeared on State Rep. Sheldon Neeley's weekly radio program on WFLT 1420 AM on July 27 to allege that he attempted to get a search warrant on a credit union checking account for Weaver's 527. Stafford said he asked Special Prosecutor Todd Flood for the search warrant, but Flood told him the issue was outside the scope of what they were charged with investigation. Stafford also said during the interview on the program that a donor told him his check was intended to help Flint water crisis victims, and was not intended to go into the mayor's private 527 fund. Stafford described it as a felony crime.
No comments have been issued by the Attorney General's office or Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton about why Stafford's information wasn't investigated since such illegal activity could earn someone a 20-year prison sentence.
Stafford's allegations came on the heels of a report by The Morning Gazete Radio Show and on social media about a $7,500 check for consulting to a topless bar owner's company was exposed by one of the challengers (Don Pfeiffer) on his Facebook page after inspecting campaign finance reports filed on July 23 by the mayor.
Charles Winfrey, who has been involved as a consultant on Mayor Weaver's 2015, 2017 and 2019 campaigns, took to Facebook to note that the $7,500 campaign check to Power Team 69 LLC at 1410 Saginaw Street in Flint was for the owner of Club 69 Adult Entertainment to help with matters related to "helping get the vote out" for Mayor Weaver. One Flint City Councilman (Maurice Davis of the 2nd Ward) went on Facebook Live and his weekly podcast to defend the mayor of "having the guts to go into the topless bar and reach her potential voters."
August 5, 2019
The Daily Gazette
Former top investigator Ellis Stafford (center) appeared July 27 during a radio program on WFLT 1420 AM to allege that Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver diverted funds to a private 527 fund that were intended for residents in the City of Flint impacted by the water crisis.
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