Kwame Kilpatrick: Disgraced Detroit mayor gets 'massive' 28-year sentence
The sentencing Thursday of Kwame Kilpatrick caps a saga that has gripped the financially strapped city for a decade and has become a frustrating symbol of Detroit's legacy of corruption.
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Judge Edmunds stopped short of saying the bankruptcy played a direct role in her decision, but she said, “It was citizens of Detroit that suffered when they handed over their hard-earned tax dollars to the city.”Skip to next paragraph
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City, state, and federal officials often cite the financial mismanagement and corruption that flourished under the Kilpatrick administration as key factors that pushed the city toward insolvency. Earlier this year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) appointed an emergency financial manager to restructure Detroit’s finances and mitigate its $18 billion in debt, including $3.5 billion in underfunded pension liabilities and $5.7 billion in other retiree benefits.
Kilpatrick served as Detroit mayor between 2002 and 2008 after serving as a state representative between 1997 and 2001. Prosecutors said his wrongdoing spanned the tenure of both offices. Kilpatrick resigned during his second term as mayor to plead guilty to lying in a civil case involving a sex scandal with a top aide. He ended up serving a four-month prison term on two obstruction of justice felonies.
In a 10-minute speech to the court Thursday immediately before his sentencing, Kilpatrick denied immediate knowledge of wrongdoing and also denied that he stole money from the city, saying he “would never put any contractor or any person that’s a friend before anybody else and the people of the city.”
“The verdict said, that’s what happened. So there has to be something I needed to do that was much different than I did,” he added. He also trumpeted his achievements in office, including the development of three casinos and a hotel redevelopment project.
He said he “absolutely hated” being mayor as soon as six months into the position because “it was the hardest thing.”
The sentencing guidelines were related to a government estimate of $9.6 million the city lost to the conspiracy. Before the sentencing, Edmunds trimmed the estimate to $4.6 million.
Kilpatrick has been held at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., since his March conviction. Edmunds considered Kilpatrick a flight risk based on his earlier criminal record, and she would not release him on bond. It is uncertain if his months served will apply to his new sentence.
Kilpatrick has the option to appeal his sentence, Edmunds noted. Also, there will be a hearing sometime over the next 90 days in which a decision will be made on the amount of fines he has to pay.
On Thursday, Kilpatrick referenced the city’s petition for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, saying he wants “the city to heal” from the time and money lost dealing with his legal woes.
“I want the city to prosper. I want the city to be great in the end. I want the city to have the same feeling it did in 2006 when the Super Bowl was here,” he said. “Everybody felt like this was their town.”
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