Robert Davis (WWJ Photo/Vickie Thomas)

Robert Davis (WWJ Photo/Vickie Thomas)

Associated Press

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DETROIT (AP) – A union activist known for suing Michigan’s governor and the city of Detroit over the use of emergency managers has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing about $200,000 from a poor school district.

Robert Davis was president of the Highland Park school board. He got the district to make payments to companies controlled by friends. He took a cut of the cash in a multi-year scheme that lasted until 2010.

Davis told a judge Thursday that he was “selfish and immature.” He’s promising to be a model citizen when he’s released from prison.

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Detroit federal Judge Arthur Tarnow says Davis stole from a struggling school system. Highland Park schools emergency manager Greg Weatherspoon says the number of students has dropped more than 80 percent since 2008.

Outside court Thursday, Davis said the 18 months in custody won’t be “real severe,” especially if he’s assigned to a low-security camp.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says stealing from schools is the “most reprehensible kind of corruption.”

Davis is known for repeatedly suing Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit officials to stop emergency managers, who are powerful officials appointed to run poor cities and school districts. The litigation so far has failed.

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