Kilpatrick Verdict: Guilty on 24 counts of corruption, racketeering, extortion, and conspiracy.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty Monday of 24 corruption charges including racketeering, extortion, and conspiracy. The verdict puts and end to a drawn-out and highly politicized trial. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, childhood friends, and colleagues were the subjects of and extended federal corruption investigation.
The trial centered around Kilpatrick’s shady dealings surrounding the awarding of a lucrative city contract. Contractor Bobby Ferguson, a friend of Kilpatrick’s, was also found guilty on three counts.
Kilpatrick and Ferguson were accused of manipulating the bidding process so that large public works contracts would be awarded to contractors who would subcontract parts of the work to Ferguson.
In Michigan, and in many other states, there are programs in place that are designed to level the playing field by giving minority contractors preference in the bidding process for public work. While the defense insisted that Kilpatrick was promoting minority-owned business such as Ferguson’s, the jury found that both Kilpatrick and Ferguson had unfairly manipulated the process for their personal benefit.
Kilpatrick was elected mayor of Detroit in 2001 and again in 2005. A detroit native, Kilpatrick followed his mother into politics. He was elected to the State House of Representatives at age 26. He was young, well spoken, and well loved. He quickly became embroiled in scandal of every sort.
Kilpatrick was forced to step down in 2008 after he pled guilty to two federal misconduct charges in relation to a sex scandal. He served several months in prison as a result.
This most recent verdict carries the possibility of a 20-year prison term.
Many supporters of Kilpatrick have criticized the prosecution’s choice of witnesses, many of whom were caught in their own corruption and tax evasion scandals and testified against Kilpatrick as a part of a plea bargain.
Among the most notable was Karl Kado, West Bloomfield businessman who testified that he had to pay Kilpatrick and his father in order to keep large maintenance contracts at the city’s Cobo Center.
“I had no choice but to give him money, I am like a hostage. I am a hostage at Cobo,” he said, according to the Detroit Times. Kado is currently on probation for tax crimes.
As far as city-wide corruption goes, Detroit natives seem to feel the feds are in the right rooting out deep-seated corruption, of which Kilpatrick is merely the tip of the iceberg.
As one blogger commented, “Justice finally for Detroit!”
Others, have expressed little sympathy for the supposed victims of Kilpatricks extortion, suggesting that the contractors knew who they were getting involved with and were corrupt themselves. One Detroit News commentator wrote, “After all if you sleep with dogs, you may get fleas.”
While Detroit residents certainly seem relieved to have this high-profile trial over, many question whether Kilpatrick will actually have to serve the time, and whether this latest conviction will really bring any more justice to the corruption laden city.
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