Three of Detroit’s most powerful figures gathered at an Eastern Market bar and talked about a suspected payoff scheme at city hall.
Only one called authorities. That was Detroit Police Chief James Craig, a relative newbie to a city where snitching is taboo, even among high-ranking officials.
So why did the Rev. Horace Sheffield III and political consultant Adolph Mongo stay quiet about allegations of more city hall corruption? Especially ones against a key witness in the trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick?
I called them Sunday to find out.
It all started like this: Mongo and Rev. Sheffield, who is running for Congress, met up at Cutter’s Bar and Grill in February but didn’t expect to run into the police chief. After Chief Craig began talking to Mongo, the trio decided to sit together and talk.
Mongo and Sheffield began discussing “rumors” that Thomas Hardiman, president and CEO of A&H Contractors in Detroit, was trying to bribe council members to influence the outcome of the vote for council president in early January. Sheffield said he was angry because the contractor apparently approached his daughter, new Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, about the vote.
“The issue for me was that someone who benefited from such a terrible scandal that involved the mayor would have a conversation with my daughter,” Sheffield said.
So why not call authorities?
“I wasn’t reporting a crime,” Sheffield told me. “I was reporting my disgust with him having a conversation with my daughter.”
Sheffield said he now wishes he had kept his mouth shut.
“Had I known that he was going to take it to that level, I wouldn’t have said anything,” he said.
I couldn’t reach Mongo for comment.
For Craig, there was no question about calling the FBI.
“I’m obligated,” the chief told the Free Press. “If someone brings information to me regarding an alleged crime, I’m obligated to take appropriate action.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.