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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Kwame Kilpatrick learns his fate today


 After years of legal, political and tabloid drama, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick finally learns his fate Thursday.

Kilpatrick faces up to life in prison after being convicted of two dozen federal corruption charges, including racketeering, bribery and extortion in March.

Federal prosecutors call the scale of Kilpatrick’s corruption “astonishing” and “devastating,” and argue he should get at least 28 years in prison for his crimes.

Kilpatrick’s lawyer disagrees, and is pushing for a maximum 15-year sentence.

Legal experts say Kilpatrick is in for a lengthy sentence—the question is how lengthy.

“Judges often come somewhere in between the recommendation of the two parties in this type of situation,” said Peter Henning, a law professor and white-collar crime expert at Wayne State University. “Certainly I would expect a sentence of at least 20 years, given the number of charges.”

If Kilpatrick is given the 28 years prosecutors are asking for, that would be among the longest sentences ever handed out for public corruption nationally.

But Henning said it’s not out of the question. “There’s definitely been a trend in the last few years, where you’re seeing [longer] sentences for this type of corruption.”

Kilpatrick’s longtime friend and former city contractor, Bobby Ferguson, will also be sentenced Thursday.

The government wants Ferguson and Kilpatrick to pay $9.6 million in restitution to the city of Detroit. Prosecutors say that’s at least how much the two men profited from illegally steering water department contracts to Ferguson’s business.

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