Kwame Kilpatrick Sentenced to 28 years in Prison For Corruption

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His political career destroyed long ago, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced Thursday to a stunning 28 years in prison for corruption.

The apparent last step in a series of scandals that destroyed his career and helped steer a crisis-laden city even deeper into trouble was an emphatic one.

Kilpatrick, who served as mayor from 2002-2008, fattened his bank account by tens of thousands of dollars using tactics better suited for a TV drama.

He traveled the country in private planes and even strong-armed his campaign fundraiser for stacks of cash hidden in her bra, according to evidence at trial.

"I'm ready to go so the city can move on," Kilpatrick said. "The people here are suffering, they're hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for."

In March, Kilpatrick, 43, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. The government called it the "Kilpatrick enterprise." 

It was described as a years-long scheme to shake down contractors and reward allies, and he was doomed in the end by his own text messages.

Kilpatrick's texts revealed efforts to fix deals for a pal, Bobby Ferguson, an excavator who got millions of dollars in city work through the water department.

Contractors say they were forced to hire Ferguson or risk losing lucrative deals. 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 of the Michigan city.

Defense attorneys tried to portray that insane sum of money as generous gifts from political supporters who opened their wallets for birthdays or holidays.

The government said Kwame Kilpatrick also tapped a nonprofit created to help distressed Detroit residents, to pay for yoga, golf clubs and travel.

Judge Nancy Edmunds said before imposing the sentence:

"A man with the charisma and ability of Mr. Kilpatrick chose to use his talents on personal aggrandizement and enrichment when he had the potential to do so much for the city."

The sentence was a win for prosecutors, who recommended Kilpatrick serve at least 28 years in prison, while defense attorneys argued for no more than 15.

Kilpatrick, a Democrat, quit office in 2008 in a different scandal that was extraordinary at the time but seems smaller compared with the sweeping federal probe.

Sexually explicit texts (again) revealed that Kilpatrick covered up an affair with aide Christine Beatty and reasons for firing police officers who suspected wrongdoing.

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Kwame Kilpatrick Biography

Kwame Kilpatrick is the mayor of Detroit, Michigan. Elected at age 31, he became the youngest mayor in the history of Detroit, as well as... More »
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Kwame Kilpatrick