Kwame Kilpatrick: Ex-Detroit mayor convicted of corruption charges

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gets into a vehicle in front of the federal courthouse. Credit: Reuters
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gets into a vehicle in front of the federal courthouse.
Credit: Reuters

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted on Monday on federal racketeering and other charges following the biggest public corruption probe in the city in decades.

U.S. prosecutors had accused Kilpatrick, his father and a city contractor of widespread corruption, extorting bribes from contractors who wanted to get or keep city contracts, turning the mayor’s office into “Kilpatrick Incorporated.”

Kilpatrick’s friend Bobby Ferguson, a city contractor, also was convicted by a jury on racketeering and other charges. The former mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was convicted on a single count of signing a false tax return.

The jury of 12 deliberated for 14 days since February 19 in a trial that started last September in U.S. District Court before Judge Nancy Edmunds.

Jurors found Kilpatrick guilty of racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail and wire fraud, and tax charges. They found Ferguson guilty of racketeering, extortion and bribery. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Lawyers for the three defendants had argued that the government’s case was built on weak evidence and witnesses who lied to curry favor with prosecutors in their own public corruption cases. None of the defendants testified.

For many people in Detroit, the Kilpatricks contributed to the decline of the home of the U.S. automotive industry, which will soon be under the control of a Michigan state-appointed financial emergency manager.

Kilpatrick, 42, was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party when he was elected Detroit mayor at age 31 in 2001, but his tenure was marked by accusations of cronyism, nepotism and lavish spending. He resigned from office in 2008.


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