Kwame Kilpatrick, ex-mayor of Detroit, was convicted of corruption by a jury on Monday after a five-month trial. Kilpatrick was found guilty on several charges, including racketeering conspiracy, which holds a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, reports The Associated Press.
During the trial, prosecutors provided evidence of bribes, contract rigging and kickbacks from donors and other schemes. Kilpatrick would force business owners to hire his friend, Bobby Ferguson, as a subcontractor on any excavation work or risk losing lucrative government contracts. Ferguson was also convicted of racketeering charges. In total, Kilpatrick was found guilty of 23 charges with the jury finding him not guilty on three and undecided on three others, reports AP.
The jury heard testimony from Emma Bell, a fundraiser who gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 from political donations, and Derrick Miller, an aide to Kilpatrick, also testified he would pass along bribes to Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick continued to maintain his innocence, and defense attorney James Thomas said that the extra funds were just “cash gifts.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow described the mayor's corruption as “breathtaking" and said in his closing argument, "We cannot turn away and ignore the corruption that occurred in this city. It is time for the former mayor and his accomplices to be held accountable for their crimes — it is past time," reports AP.
This is the second conviction of crimes occurring while Kilpatrick was in office. Kilpatrick was elected as mayor of Detroit in 2001 when he was just 31. He resigned in 2008 after it was revealed he was having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, by the Detroit Free Press. Kilpatrick and Beatty shared thousands of sexually explicit text messages on government-issued pagers. Kilpatrick agreed to a plea deal where he pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice leading to four months in the Wayne County Jail and paid $1 million in restitution to Detroit. After missing a restitution payment, Kilpatrick spent 14 months in jail, notes AP.
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WXYZ kept a live blog for the ruling on Monday and during the bond hearing, Kilpatrick and Ferguson were ordered to jail until sentencing.
Speaking about Kilpatrick’s conviction, current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement, “It’s time for all of us to move forward with a renewed commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our city government.”