Kwame Kilpatrick | Michigan Radio

Kwame Kilpatrick

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Associated Press DETROIT (AP) -  A Detroit contractor who got millions of dollars of city work through extortion will be released early from prison. Judge Nancy Edmunds is citing Bobby Ferguson's health. But the judge also says it would be unfair to keep Ferguson locked up when former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was released by President Donald Trump.


Today on Stateside, Joe Biden has been inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who served as co-chair of the inauguration committee, tells us about preparations for the event and the work ahead for President Biden. Also, a journalist discusses how former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s conviction shaped politics in the city. Plus, as former government leaders face criminal charges for their roles in the Flint water crisis, we take a look at what investigation of elected officials entails.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Outgoing President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served about seven years of a 28-year sentence for corruption.

A White House statement said that prominent members of the Detroit community had supported Kilpatrick’s commutation and noted, “During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, as President Trump pardons a slew of white-collar criminals, some Detroiters are asking for consideration for Kwame Kilpatrick. The former Detroit mayor is serving a lengthy sentence on corruption charges. What would a commutation do for Trump's standing in metro Detroit? Also, a new documentary tells the story of how a lakeside town in West Michigan became contaminated with PFAS.

AP file photo

Disgraced ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has failed again in his efforts to reduce the time he's spending in federal prison for corruption.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds on Tuesday denied a motion to vacate the 28-year sentence she handed Kilpatrick in 2013 for extortion, bribery, conspiracy and other crimes during his years in office.

The 48-year-old Kilpatrick said in his motion that the court made errors during his trial that included incorrect jury instructions.

Federal Department of Corrections

Disgraced ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has ended up at a low-security federal prison in New Jersey.

The Detroit News reports the 47-year-old Kilpatrick was transferred this week from a federal prison in Oklahoma to a federal detention center in Philadelphia before being moved to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick denied again

Jun 28, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court has made some controversial decisions this term, including Monday, when the nation’s highest court struck down a Texas law designed to make it harder for women to get abortions, something that is now a long-established constitutional right.

But the court also did something that was entirely predictable and scarcely controversial at all. They declined to hear yet another appeal by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of his public corruption conviction. That means that unless he comes up with yet other grounds for appeal, he is in federal prison until August 2037.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his corruption conviction and 28-year prison sentence.

The request was recently made after a federal appeals court said in October it had no interest in taking a second look at the case.

In 2013, Kilpatrick was found guilty of two dozen crimes, including tax evasion and bribery. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August affirmed the conviction, but Kilpatrick wanted the full appeals court to hear the case.

Appeals court to Kilpatrick: "Whatever..."

Oct 22, 2015
Federal Department of Corrections

A federal appeals court has no interest in taking a second look at the corruption case of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The decision means Kilpatrick will continue serving a 28-year prison sentence unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides to intervene, which is quite the long shot.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the corruption conviction and 28-year prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

In 2013, Kilpatrick was convicted of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. A jury found that he rigged contracts, took bribes and committed other corrupt acts.

Kilpatrick's appeal centered on an alleged conflict among his trial attorneys, among other reasons.

DETROIT  - A three-judge panel will hear former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal for a new trial.

  Documents show oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 13 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

  Kilpatrick wants his corruption conviction overturned. He is serving a 28-year sentence at a federal prison after a jury last year convicted him of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. He appealed, saying there was a conflict involving his attorneys, among other reasons.

Why Snyder's immigration plan may be his best yet

Jan 24, 2014

Thirteen years ago, a friend who runs a political PR firm urged me to meet a man he saw as a visionary politician who he was going to be elected mayor and transform Detroit.

His name was Kwame Kilpatrick. We all know how that turned out, but nobody did then. What was the same then and now, however, was Detroit’s need for jobs and money.

Over the years, I had learned one thing: If you want to jump-start an economy, what you need are immigrants. Driven, motivated, immigrants who want a better life.

AP file photo

Last week, as Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to 28 years in what became an historic case of corruption, she decried the lack of transparency and accountability that surrounded Kilpatrick’s administration.

“So much business was being done behind closed doors without anyone looking into it until the press got into it and opened the door to what was transpiring in City Hall,” Edmunds said in the courtroom.

The voters of Detroit handed their trust to Kwame Kilpatrick, and as a jury found, he turned that trust into a vehicle to feed his greed — using the office of Detroit’s mayor as his personal piggy bank.

Now that chapter is over, Detroiters are preparing to elect a new mayor. So, what better time for the first-ever Leadership Summit on Good Governance for Detroit?

The summit convener, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, joined us in studio to discuss securing good governance in southeast Michigan.

To learn more about the conference, follow this link.

Listen to the full interview above. 

A summary of the week's news with Jack Lessenberry

Oct 12, 2013
Bob Jagendorf / Flickr

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Governor Snyder's testimony regarding the Detroit bankruptcy filing, the governor's NERD fund, and the sentencing of former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick.

The interview can be heard below

U.S. Marshal

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s co-defendent and city contractor Bobby Ferguson was sentenced to 21 years in prison today after being convicted on racketeering, bribery and other charges.

The sentence comes one day after U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced Kilpatrick to 28 years in federal prison.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the prosecution also wanted 28 years for Ferguson:

Good day for democracy

Oct 11, 2013

Well, it has been an odd and remarkable week in an odd and remarkable year. Large parts of the federal government are still shut down, and Detroit’s march towards bankruptcy is still proceeding, agonizingly slowly.

Yesterday, however, there was a flurry of good news, most from poor beleaguered Motown itself. The city’s thoroughly corrupt former mayor was sentenced to a record stretch in federal prison.

AP file photo

Prosecutors called for 28 years. The defense said he should get no more than 15.

Federal Judge Nancy G. Edmunds gave former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick 28 years in prison.

The sentence today comes after Kilpatrick was convicted last March on 24 counts of public corruption, which included racketeering and extortion.

They New York Times reports that "18 city officials ... have been convicted of corruption during [Kilpatrick's] tenure as mayor."

In a statement to the court, Kilpatrick said, "I apologize to you [Detroiters] for abandoning you." But he also said this, "I've never stolen from the city of Detroit."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is at the sentencing hearing and characterized his statement this way on Twitter:

Sarah will have more for us later.

 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.

Farewell to Kwame

Oct 9, 2013

Tomorrow a federal judge will sentence former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to a long stretch in prison for some of his crimes. Nearly seven months ago, he was convicted on 24 counts of corruption, including tax evasion, racketeering, extortion and mail fraud.

The airwaves will be full of this tomorrow. The newspapers will have a field day the next day. In Detroit, where chronicling Kilpatrick is a big-league sport of its own, there’s a lot of speculation as to how long he’ll get.

I don’t know, but I do know this: The worst punishment for this charming sociopath will probably be the one that starts after the sentencing is over. I intend to help administer this punishment, and hope my colleagues in the media will too. I intend, insofar as possible, to ignore Kwame Kilpatrick.  If the rest of the media does the same, that may torment him worse than anything else.

The media have never been able to get enough of Kwame. We fawned all over him when he first ran for mayor. Here was this brilliant 31 year old, an athlete, a scholar, a blazing star in the legislature come to save his city.

Merging Wayne County and Detroit could fix both

Aug 16, 2013

  Everybody knows that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was thoroughly corrupt. He currently is sitting in jail waiting sentencing in federal court on his latest round of convictions.

His political career is dead and his chance at being free is over, at least for years to come. But you can easily make the argument that, at least in terms of cost to the taxpayers, the administration of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is worse.

Certainly Ficano has wasted far more of the taxpayers’ money than Kilpatrick’s grubby crimes cost Detroit. One of the enduring mysteries of state politics is why this man is still in his job. Michigan’s largest county has lurched from scandal to scandal.

There was the case of Turkia Awada Mullin, the crony who somehow was vaulted over far more qualified applicants, made head of the airport authority and given a two hundred thousand dollar “severance” to go from one job to another.

U.S. Marshal

Today U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied Bobby Ferguson's request that he be released on bond while he awaits sentencing.

Ferguson was convicted alongside former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on multiple felony counts including racketeering.

Edmunds said he might be a flight risk.

More from the Associated Press:

Federal prosecutors opposed the request from Ferguson. His lawyer had argued that Ferguson wasn't a flight risk or danger to the public...

Edmunds last month denied a request from Kilpatrick to be released on bond while he awaits sentencing.

The Detroit Free Press has reported that family members and friends have offered up their homes as collateral to ensure Ferguson would show up for his sentencing hearing.

Apparently, Edmunds was not convinced.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Kwame Kilpatrick may have been known as "Boss" or "Black" to some, but in his new home, he’s inmate number 44678-039. 

That’s according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate search.  His new address (at least until he’s sentenced) is the Milan Federal Correctional Institution.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the debate between the Detroit City Council and Governor Snyder over an impending emergency manager appointment in Detroit, and how unions are trying to get new contracts in place before the new right to work law takes affect later this month.

To hear their discussion, click on the audio above.

Commentary: Goodbye Kwame Kilpatrick

Mar 12, 2013

The newspapers are full of stories about Kwame Kilpatrick’s conviction today. That makes sense. This is a major story. Never has a former Detroit mayor been convicted of so many felonies on so many charges, though he is not the first or even the second to end up in jail.

But what doesn’t make sense is the media’s continuing obsession with him. When Kilpatrick resigned his office in disgrace, George Bush was still president, Jennifer Granholm was still governor, and the auto bailout hadn’t yet happened. That was nearly five years ago.

More than three years ago, Mayor Dave Bing told me that he had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach every time Kilpatrick was back in the newspapers. Every reminder of Kwame’s existence made his job that much harder. Yet every time Kwame moved, it seemed to be front-page news. His seemingly interminable trial went on for months.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Kilpatrick found guilty on public corruption case

"Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his longtime friend Bobby Ferguson are in prison. The two men were taken into custody after a federal jury found them guilty on multiple charges in a major federal corruption trial," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Lawyer who represented Chrysler in bankruptcy might be Detroit's EFM

Kevin Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer who represented Chrysler in it's 2009 bankruptcy might be Governor Rick Snyder's choice to be Detroit's emergency financial manager. That's if Snyder moves forward with an emergency financial manager for the city. As the Detroit News reports,

"A high-level source with knowledge of the decision confirmed late yesterday that Orr is the choice. He's the only name to emerge who hasn't denied interest since Snyder declared the city in a financial emergency March 1."

Detroit City Council to argue against an EFM in a hearing today

"Michigan officials are set to hear an appeal from Detroit council members who dispute the state's declaration that the city has no plan to fix its fiscal crisis. Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary MacDowell will attend today's hearing in Lansing and report back to Governor Rick Snyder. Detroit has a budget deficit of $327 million," the Associated Press reports.

In a weird twist of fate, two remarkable events in Detroit’s recent history are happening at virtually the same time.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of multiple federal corruption charges Monday. And Governor Snyder is expected to appoint an emergency financial manager within days.

The timing is a coincidence, but there’s some connection between the two events—and a lot of symbolism.

Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal racketeering and extortion convictions may mean the former Detroit mayor will not be able to pay the city approximately $850,000 in restitution in another case.

Monday, Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted on more than 20 counts of racketeering. extortion and other charges.   The former mayor faces up to 20 years in federal prison. 

In 2008, Kilpatrick agreed to pay a million dollars in restitution as part of a guilty plea to state obstruction of justice charges. He also served time in prison.

It lasted about six months, and today, a federal jury found former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick guilty of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion.  

You might remember Kilpatrick previously spent a year in prison for lying under oath about a sexting-affair he had with his Chief of Staff and for violating his probation.

So, here we are today.

It’s not going to be just a few weeks or few months, the former Mayor is going to be facing some serious prison-time.
We spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek who's been covering the case for Michigan Radio, and with Larry Dubin of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Listen to their thoughts on the verdict above.

  On today's show, balancing the state's budget - there's a fight in Lansing over whether or not the state should add money to it's so-called "rainy-day fund." Just how much money should be in the state's savings account? And, two cases involving same sex marriage will soon be in front of the Supreme Court. We find out what that could mean for gays and lesbians here in Michigan.

But first, It lasted about six months and today, a federal jury found former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick guilty of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion.  

Now, you might remember Kilpatrick previously spent a year in prison for lying under oath about a sexting-affair he had with his Chief of Staff and for violating his probation.

So, here we are today. It’s not going to be just a few weeks or few months, the Mayor is going to be facing some serious prison-time.
We spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek. She’s been covering the case for Michigan Radio.

Kwame Kilpatrick / Facebook

In a big court victory for federal prosecutors, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been found guilty of conspiracy racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and tax charges.

His longtime contractor friend, Bobby Ferguson, was also found guilty on multiple extortion and racketeering charges.

Kwame Kilpatrick's father, Bernard, was found guilty of one tax charge.

Update 3:01 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ordered ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick and his longtime contractor friend, Bobby Ferguson, to be held in prison until their sentencing in the corruption case.

More from the Associated Press:

... he was handcuffed and led to jail after prosecutors asked the judge to revoke his bond. Edmunds said it was a "close call" but agreed that the scale under federal law tipped in favor of the government.

The Detroit Free Press reports on the argument federal prosecutors made that Kilpatrick should be detained:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta argued that Kilpatrick should be detained because he has a history of disobeying orders. He also said Kilpatrick has access to money, as does Ferguson. Bullotta said Kilpatrick lied after his convictions on obstruction of justice charges in the text message scandal that drove him out of office.

“It’s a different ball game now,” he said.

As he was lead away, Kilpatrick spoke to his family:


Update 12:23 p.m.

Some jurors in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial are answering questions from the media right now.

Jim Shaefer of the Detroit Free Press is live-blogging at the courthouse.

When asked if they felt anger toward Kilpatrick for using the mayor's office for personal gain, they said anger doesn't quite capture it - disappointment does:

Juror No. 6: "We had no anger...this was very serious. we had a large responsibility. I think we felt we did that responsibility...we had no anger or any other emotion other than we felt the (impact) this decision would have on the defendants."

Juror No. 11: "I wouldn't call it anger. I would call it more so disappointment, with me voting for the mayor twice. ...I saw a lot that really, really turned my stomach, and I couldn't believe this kind of thing was going on... but there was never any anger. Disappointment is all I feel."

When asked if they felt sorry for the defendants...

Juror No. 11: "I feel bad for the families. There's always a bit of sadness for the children and the families...I don't feel bad for the defendants, because I think you go into things knowing what you're doing."

The Detroit News just pushed this picture of Kilpatrick leaving the courthouse earlier this morning out on Twitter:

12:00 p.m.

Jurors are taking questions from the media now. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is in the courtroom and will have updates for us later today.

The jurors who chose to speak to the media are saying they took each of the 45 counts seriously, and carefully weighed the evidence for each count.

They say they also took the judge's orders to not follow media accounts of the trial very seriously.

Jim Schaefer of the Freep blogs:

Juror No. 7 says she was a social media junkie, but gave it up for the trial.

When asked which charge was the toughest to decide:

Juror No. 12: "We are a nice group of times, arguments got a little heated" but identifying one charge as difficult is tough. All of them were tough. We took good notes, looked through them, worked with good diligence.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing released the following statement regarding the verdict.

“I am pleased that this long trial has ended and we can finally put this negative chapter in Detroit’s history behind us.  It is time for all of us to move forward with a renewed commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our City government.”

11:28 a.m.

There were 45 charges in all against the three men (30 against Kwame Kilpatrick, 11 against Bobby Ferguson, and four against Bernard Kilpatrick).

Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press reports Kilpatrick was found guilty of 24 of the 30 charges against him.

Bobby Ferguson was found guilty of nine of the 11 charges against him.

And Kwame Kilpatrick's father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was found guilty on one tax charge.

At 1:30 today, the judge will decide whether the men will be allowed to be free on bond until the sentencing hearing.

11:05 a.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson have left the courtroom. The following tweets describe the scene:

10:56 a.m.

The Detroit Free Press' Jim Schaefer has been live-blogging the verdicts this morning.

Here's how he described the reactions from Kwame Kilpatrick (KK) and Bobby Ferguson (BF):

KK was shaking his head through some of the guilty verdicts. Now the defendants are all staring at the jury, but everyone is composed.

Jury has left the room. Defendants have sat down. Judge wants to discuss detention.

Judge says that will require a hearing. She will take that up at 1:30. In the meantime, the defendants will remain free on bond.

KK has his chin resting on his right hand as he sits in his chair.

A staggering defeat, obviously, for the former mayor.

BF is slumped a bit in his chair. BK is seated on the edge of his chair.

KK now has his hands clasped in front of him, chin resting on them.

10:51 a.m.

The jury has finished reading their verdicts. There were 45 charges in all against the three men. The jury was unanimous in 40 of them.

The federal government has won its RICO case against Kwame Kilpatrick and his longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson.

Kwame's father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was found not guilty in the racketeering charges, but he was found guilty of one tax charge.

Kilpatrick and his longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson have been found guilty on multiple racketeering, extortion, wire and mail fraud charges.  Kilpatrick has also been found guilty of mail and wire fraud.

10:40 a.m.

The verdicts are coming in now, Kwame Kilpatrick has been found guilty on the racketeering and extortion charges, more charges are coming in.

10:35 a.m.

Photo of the media waiting for the verdict from the Detroit Free Press' Nathan Bomey.

10:29 a.m.

We are preparing to hear the verdicts in the Kwame Kilpatrick public corruption case.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and longtime friend and contractor Bobby Ferguson all face dozens of charges, the most serious of which is conspiracy racketeering under the federal RICO Act (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

The Detroit Free Press reports the racketeering charges carry "a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison."

We will update this post as we hear the verdicts.