Kwama Kilpatrick

Kwame Kilpatrick, former mayor of Detroit, was found guilty on 24 counts Monday. He was charged with several crimes which included racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and filing false tax returns. A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for over two weeks. It is suspected that Kilpatrick could face up to 20 years in prison.

The former mayor was not alone in this trial. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and friend, Bobby Ferguson, were also found guilty of several charges. These men allegedly helped Kwame run a criminal enterprise while serving as mayor of Detroit. It is reported that Ferguson received $84 million worth of city contracts while Kilpatrick was in office. Ferguson would then “kickback” money earned from these contracts to Kilpatrick.

Reports say that Kilpatrick appeared stunned during the afternoon bond hearing when he was sentenced to remain in prison until his sentencing. Bobby Ferguson received the same fate. Judge Nancy Edmunds said she considered the two to be a flight risk and a danger to the community. She has yet to set a sentencing date.

The charges against Kilpatrick were filed in 2010. All three defendants were charged with operating a criminal enterprise out of the mayor’s office. The 5 month trial included 80 witness testimonies. Barbara McQuade, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, spoke at a press conference following the trial. “This verdict has sent a powerful message that corruption will not be tolerated in this community. Candidates should seek office to make a difference, not to make money for themselves.”

At 31, Kwame Kilpatrick was the youngest mayor in Detroit’s history. His entire career, 2002-2008, was shrouded in scandal and controversy regarding misuse of city funds. And how could any of us forget the sex and text scandal in 2008 when he was accused of perjuring himself in court regarding his affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beaty. He resigned after those charges were filed.

Detroit is in a tough spot. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new renaissance for the Motor City. With the threat of a state takeover on the horizon, the city could use something to be proud of.

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