28 years in prison for corrupt ex-Detroit mayor

A former Detroit mayor was sent to federal prison for nearly three decades Thursday, after offering little remorse for the widespread corruption under his watch but acknowledging he let down the troubled city during a critical period before it landed in bankruptcy.
AP Wire
Oct 10, 2013

Prosecutors argued that Kwame Kilpatrick's "corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis" that Detroit now finds itself in. A judge agreed with the government's recommendation that 28 years in prison was appropriate for rigging contracts, taking bribes and putting his own price on public business.

It is one of the toughest penalties doled out for public corruption in recent U.S. history and seals a dramatic fall for Kilpatrick, who was elected mayor in 2001 at age 31 and is the son of a former senior member of Congress.

While Detroit's finances were eroding, he was getting bags of cash from city contractors, kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser and private cross-country travel from businessmen, according to trial evidence.

Kilpatrick, 43, said he was sorry if he let down his hometown but denied ever stealing from the citizens of Detroit.

"I'm ready to go so the city can move on," Kilpatrick said, speaking softly with a few pages of notes before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ordered the sentence.

"The people here are suffering, they're hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for," he said.

In March, he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. The government called it the "Kilpatrick enterprise," a yearslong scheme to shake down contractors and reward allies. He was doomed by his own text messages, which revealed efforts to fix deals for a pal, Bobby Ferguson, an excavator.

Prosecutors said $73 million of Ferguson's $127 million in revenue from city work came through extortion. The government alleged that he in turn shared cash with Kilpatrick.

Agents who pored over bank accounts and credit cards said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor, from 2002 to fall 2008. Defense attorneys tried to portray the money as generous gifts from political supporters who opened their wallets for birthdays or holidays.

"It is difficult to quantify the total cost of the devastating corruption instigated by Kilpatrick. ... But one thing was certain: It was the citizens of Detroit who suffered when they turned over their hard-earned tax dollars but failed to receive the best services," the judge said.

Kilpatrick was convicted in March, just days before Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder sent an emergency manager to Detroit to take control of city operations. The city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July, overloaded with at least $18 billion in long-term debt.

Edmunds said Kilpatrick can't be blamed for the bankruptcy — he's been out of office for five years — but "corruption has its own cost."

"We're demanding transparency and accountability in our government. We expect it," the judge said. "If there has been corruption in the past, there will be corruption no more. We're done. It's over."

Kilpatrick covered much ground in his 30 minutes of remarks to the judge. He said he hated being mayor after just six months because the job was so difficult. He lamented that his three sons now will grow up without their father, a problem in black families, and said his scandals "killed" the political career of his mother, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Democrat who lost re-election in 2010.

The former mayor didn't specifically address his crimes, though he said he respected the jury's verdict. An appeal is certain. He said his family wasn't in the courtroom because he didn't want to make them uncomfortable under the media glare.

"I want the city to heal. I want it to prosper. I want the city to be great again," he told the judge. "I want the city to have the same feeling it had in 2006, when the Super Bowl was here."

The sentence was a victory for prosecutors. Defense attorneys argued for no more than 15 years in prison.

The punishment matches the 28-year sentence given to former Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Commissioner James Dimora in 2012. In Illinois, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to peddle President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat for personal gain.

Outside court, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Kilpatrick seemed to be contrite but not enough.

"At the end of the day, he did not accept responsibility for stealing from the people of Detroit. ... That to me diminished the impact of his words," said McQuade, who noted that public contracts ended up costing more money because the fix was in for Kilpatrick's buddy Ferguson.

Kilpatrick also tapped a nonprofit fund, which was created to help distressed Detroit residents, to pay for yoga, camps for his kids, golf clubs and travel, according to evidence.

Kilpatrick quit office in 2008 in a different scandal. Sexually explicit text messages revealed that he had lied during a trial to cover up an affair with his top aide, Christine Beatty, and to hide the reasons for demoting or firing police officers who suspected wrongdoing at city hall.

After more than three hours in court Thursday, Kilpatrick stood up and stretched by twisting his waist. He looked for friendly faces in the gallery, placed his hands behind his back for handcuffs and was escorted away. He hopes to be assigned to a federal prison near family in Texas.

Comments

Sandypants

Let the racist cries begin. I hope this P.O.S. finds 28 new "boyfriends" for each year he does behind bars. A Congressman's son, go figure.

Mystic Michael

This has nothing to do with race.

Sandypants

You and I know that.

rukidding

I think in this case Sandypants, anybody and everybody of all ethnicities, that has a reasonable ability to subjectively examine the facts, will have no issue that involves race in this case. Talk about screwing you friends, neighbors, and city for greed...

Truth Be Told

Not yet but it will.
Everything is about race to the left.
Disagree with the president, you get called Racialist.
Don't like obmacare..raccest
The race care is the lefts go-to do-all secret weapon, combine that with PC and the facts or truth don't stand a chance

LessThanAmused

Oh shut up you parrot! Grow an original thought or go sit in your corner and be quiet.

Racialist? Raccest? humor?

SCH39339

YAAUA

LessThanAmused

Is this an echo from the panhandler thread, or is this an acronym for something I'm not privy too?

Care to share so we call all laugh?

Mystic Michael

Thus far, it's been only you and Sandypants who have dredged up the bogus issue of race, TBT. It must mean that both of you are raving Leftists, eh?

Citizen

I only see a few people bringing up race here, and it's no one from the left.

Wolverine49457

Power will corrupt if you let it. He was tempted and succumb to the temptations he must have known on some level were dangerous, wrong and could cost him everything he's worked for, I hope he spends his time well and comes out a renewed man who will steer others onto the right path.

Lanivan

What a wise, balanced, and unexpected post, Wolverine49457.

Were you laughing hysterically when writing this, or sincere?

Wolverine49457

He belongs to God too, hate the sin love the sinner, I take no pleasure here, he committed crimes, used the power of his office to do so and is going to serve time for it as he should. He has an opportunity to become an advocate for good rather than a social punching bag only to become bitter instead of better.
This young man likely had people around him treating the Mayor of Detroit as royalty so we shouldn't be too surprised when the pampering affected his judgment, perhaps he began thinking he was above the common man and insulated from the laws of the land and decency.
The bombardment of special treatment and favors could erodes one's character and character is what you do (or don't do) when nobody is looking. I agree he will be released likely serving half or less of his sentence but he has a choice, learn to be a better criminal or learn how to make a difference...Time will tell

Lanivan

I, too, believe in the power of the human spirit to change, learn from one's mistakes, and atone for sins. It is refreshing to read your post that isn't replete with calls for vengeance without an understanding of human nature.

Wolverine49457

Vengeance does not belong to us and will not restore what was taken, begging vengeance upon our transgressors invites vengeance from our transgressed upon our own heads, when we cry that judgment come upon others we shall be judged instead. We all struggle with temptations every day albeit in smaller amounts or lesser ways but like my mother taught us to remember “there but for the Grace of God go I” and as for Mr. Kilpatrick he can choose to be the testimony that changes lives or a number in a column of statistics…in the end it is his choice but we must resist the urge become no different than those that convinced him he was above the laws that governed his citizens. We all have a responsibility to forgive each other in a manner that leads away from a lifestyle of wrath to a lifetime of healing and peace through Jesus.

Wingmaster

He will be a hero in prison. Justice served. To bad he will not serve anywhere close to his term. He will be out in no more than 10.

Vladtheimp

Sort of depends on whether he can hang on to the soap . . . .

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