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Former Detroit mayor sentenced to 28 years in prison for corruption charges

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His name will now always carry more than a just a hint of infamy: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison on a public-corruption conviction. One of the chief architects of that once-proud American city's bankruptcy, Kilpatrick had resigned his position in 2008 over sexually explicit messages and an extramarital affair.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Entering the court in handcuffs and wearing prison clothes, Kilpatrick has been in custody since his conviction in March. A 28-year sentence as a minimum had been requested by the government, although the former mayor had hoped the sentence would be less than 15 years.

It was the last step for the 43-year-old Kilpatrick after a series of scandals destroyed his political career and drove Detroit into near-ruin. Serving as mayor from 2002 until fall 2008, Kilpatrick padded his bank account with tens of thousands of dollars, traveled the country in private planes - and even bullied his campaign fundraiser for cash concealed in her bra!

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

Kilpatrick was convicted last March of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. The government called it the "Kilpatrick enterprise," a long-running scheme to shake down contractors and reward friends. Sussed-out his own text messages, which revealed efforts to fix deals for friend Bobby Ferguson, an excavator who got millions of dollars in city work through the water department.

Contractors said they were forced to take on Ferguson as a partner or risk losing lucrative deals.

An investigation of his bank accounts and credit cards found that Kilpatrick spent a whopping $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor. Attorneys tried to explain away the money as generous gifts from political supporters who opened their wallets for birthdays or holidays.

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.

"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," Judge Nancy Edmunds said before imposing the sentence.

Detroit voters soon will elect a third mayor since Kilpatrick's departure, although the city is under the control of an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, for at least another year.

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