A federal judge on Thursday sentenced disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to 28 years after his conviction on two dozen counts that underscore his title as one of America’s most corrupt city officials.
“At the very least, a significant sentence will send a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated,” federal Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said before the sentencing, according to The New York Times
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Kilpatrick, the son of former Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, was convicted of charges ranging from racketeering to extortion and led the city as its finances spiraled toward bankruptcy.
“He’s become the poster child of what went wrong with the city and why it went bankrupt,” political consultant Adolph Mongo, who worked on Kilpatrick’s re-election campaign, told the Times.
Kilpatrick fattened his bank accounts by shaking down contractors and rewarding allies. In the end, he was done in by his own text messages and trying to cover up an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty.
Judge Edmunds said Kilpatrick’s scheme to send contracts to buddy Bobby Ferguson ended up costing the city more than it should have spent and drove legitimate contractors out of business.
The former mayor also put together a house of cards to keep the city afloat, and several years ago brokered a nearly $1.5 billion loan to restructure Detroit's pension obligations. While some at the time credited Kilpatrick for the deal, it added to the city’s long-term liabilities estimated at $18 billion.
Kilpatrick was first elected in 2001 when he was 31 years old, making him the youngest mayor in Detroit history. He resigned seven years later after lying under oath in a whistle-blower lawsuit and approving an $8.4 million settlement to cover it up. He pleaded guilty at the time to obstruction of justice and spent four months in jail and was forced to pay a $1 million fine.
“I’m ready to go so the city can move on,” Kilpatrick told the judge, according to a CBS News report
. “The people here are suffering, they’re hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.
“I really, really messed up,” he said.
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