Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted of corruption charges, ensuring a return to prison for a man once among America’s youngest big-city leaders.
Jurors convicted Kilpatrick of a raft of crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years behind bars. He was portrayed during a five-month trial as an unscrupulous politician who took bribes, rigged contracts, and lived far beyond his means while in office until autumn 2008.
Kilpatrick wore a surprised, puzzled look at times as US District Judge Nancy Edmunds read the jury’s verdict: Guilty of 24 charges, not guilty on three, no consensus on three more. He declined to speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.
Prosecutors said he ran a “private profit machine” out of Detroit’s City Hall. The government showed Kilpatrick got a share of the spoils after ensuring Bobby Ferguson’s excavating company won millions of dollars in work from the water department.
Business owners said they were forced to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor or risk losing city contracts. Separately, fundraiser Emma Bell said she gave Kilpatrick over $200,000 (€153,400) as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings. A high-ranking aide, Derrick Miller, told jurors that he often was the middle man, passing bribes from others.
Internal Revenue Service agents said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his mayoral salary.
Ferguson was also convicted of racketeering conspiracy. The jury could not reach a verdict on the same charge for Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, but convicted him of submitting a false tax return.
Kwame Kilpatrick, who now lives near Dallas, did not testify. He denied any wrongdoing, and defence attorney James Thomas told jurors his client often was showered with cash gifts from city workers and political supporters during holidays and birthdays.
The government said Kilpatrick abused the Civic Fund, a nonprofit fund he created to help Detroit residents.
Kilpatrick, 42, was elected in 2001 aged 31. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a scandal involving sexually explicit text messages and an extramarital affair with his chief of staff.
He spent 14 months in prison for violating probation in that case after a judge said he failed to report assets that could be put toward his $1m restitution to Detroit.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved