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Opening arguments in Kwame Kilpatrick's federal corruption case Friday

A jury will hear opening arguments Friday in former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial.

Kilpatrick is on trial with his father, Bernard; longtime friend and former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; and former Detroit water department chief Victor Mercado.

The federal government alleges the four men formed a kind of criminal gang—the so-called “Kilpatrick Enterprise.”

An indictment accuses them of using that enterprise to “financially enrich themselves” through various schemes, including fraudulent water department contracts and a phony non-profit organization.

Defense lawyers’ argued Thursday that the trial should be moved out of Detroit, saying there was no way the defendants could get a fair trial because of “radioactive” media coverage. But Judge Nancy Edmunds dismissed those claims, saying there was no evidence of “presumptive prejudice” on the jury’s part.

Kwame Kilpatrick alone faces 36 federal counts, ranging from conspiracy to extortion and tax evasion.

Kilpatrick—who has already done time in a separate case for perjury, and later violating his probation--could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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