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Detroit's Corrupt Ex-Mayor Awaits Sentencing


Detroit may have hit rock bottom, but things are about to get much worse for the city’s wildly corrupt former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. This week, Kilpatrick will be sentenced for convictions on 24 counts of extortion, racketeering and bribery. He could be facing as much as 28 years in prison, which would make it one of the longest sentences handed down for a political corruption case.

Although most experts agree that Kilpatrick and his cronies’ corruption was not a leading cause of the city’s bankruptcy, it certainly did nothing to help the city and likely made many of the problems worse. And what’s most shocking about the situation was just how pervasive and widespread the corruption was, as the WSJ reports:

More than a dozen city officials from Mr. Kilpatrick’s tenure, including the mayor’s chief of staff, the city’s former water-department director and its chief administrative officer, have been convicted of corruption-related charges.

In March, Mr. Kilpatrick, who earlier served jail time on separate state charges, was convicted after a monthslong federal trial on 24 counts of extortion, mail fraud and tax violations related to using the power of his office to enrich himself and his associates by pocketing bribes and diverting political funds. He has been held in federal detention since his conviction. […]

Mr. Kilpatrick’s friend and city contractor Bobby Ferguson collected $73 million in illegal proceeds from city contracts, netting a profit of $9.6 million, prosecutors say. Mr. Ferguson, who was also convicted as part of Mr. Kilpatrick’s criminal conspiracy and awaits sentencing, plans to appeal his conviction, as does Mr. Kilpatrick, according to their attorneys.

Kilpatrick’s administration was a mafia style crime organization thinly disguised as a political party. We can’t help but wonder how many machines like are still cynically exploiting the poor? How many American cities are being driven into the ground?

We need a full scale Congressional investigation into what happened in Detroit. Why did prosecutors and officials ignore the problem for so long? What are the telltale signs that a mafia has seized control of a city? How can we stop it from happening again?

[Kwame Kilpatric image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • lukelea

    There is also a phenomenon — not sure how widespread it is anymore — of corrupt small-town tyrannies. Hopefully the FBI has put an end to most of them but I wouldn’t be to sure. They can pop up anytime, anywhere.

    • Tom

      That there is, and there’s little worse than one.
      That being said, a small-town tyrant doesn’t have the capacity to wreck millions of people’s lives.

  • Pete

    This slug just got 28-years. I hope he is forced to serve every second of it.

    • Corlyss

      Next they ought to go after his mother, who taught him everything he knows about how to work the system.

  • rheddles

    If any investigations are needed, they should be done by the City of Detroit or the State of Michigan. How in the world, or the Constitution, is the operation of a city government a matter of federal inquiry?

    • Corlyss

      Misuse of federal funds and likely corruption in the dispersal of those federal monies that went to various city programs.

      • rheddles

        That’s a reason for a prosecution, not a congressional investigation.

        • Corlyss

          Again, Congress is the ultimate oversight organization for the uses and abuses of federal monies. You’d be on better ground asking why Congress investigates major sports (with the exception of baseball which enjoys a Congressionally mandated exemption for the anti-trust laws). Bottom line, Congress really can investigate anything it wants to, just like for the last 80 years they have been able to legislate on any subject without fear of pushback from SCOTUS.

  • Corlyss

    “Kilpatrick and his cronies’ corruption was not a leading cause of the city’s bankruptcy,”
    Of course it wasn’t. For the answer to that question, you have to look to the voters who tolerate this kind of behavior. Until the voters demand better they won’t get it. Detroit as you note is not unique. But what is common to corrupt abusive big city machine politics everywhere is voter acceptance.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Precisely right. I lived in DC for 15 years (Barry was mayor for most of them) and the attitude was “he may be a crook, but he is OUR crook”…
      I don’t miss it at all.

  • Boritz

    ***Why did prosecutors and officials ignore the problem for so long? ***
    They are like people who won’t go swimming at the beach after seeing Jaws except the movie in this case was The Godfather.

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