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]