After a string of scandals, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison. The sentencing came seven months after a federal court found him guilty of public corruption.
Elected at the young age of 31, Kilpatrick was mayor from 2002 through 2008. During that time, he ran what officials called a “criminal enterprise” with partner Bobby Ferguson, committing extortion to garner at least $76 million in contracts.
He also stole tens of thousands of dollars for himself and used private planes for personal travel. Text messages, along with testimonies of others, helped secure the ex-mayor’s convictions of racketeering conspiracy, tax crimes, fraud and extortion.
"A man with the charisma and ability of Mr. Kilpatrick chose to use his talents on personal aggrandizement and enrichment when he had the potential to do so much for the city," said Judge Nancy Edmunds.
"I'm ready to go so the city can move on," Kilpatrick said in court. "The people here are suffering, they're hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for."
Indeed, his greedy actions were no help to the failing city, which has morphed into a slum in recent years.
"Kilpatrick is not the main culprit of the city's historic bankruptcy, which is the result of larger social and economic forces at work for decades. But his corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis," said prosecutors.
Just before sentencing, Kilpatrick told the court, "I just humbly and respectfully ask for a fair sentence ... I respect the jury's verdict. I think your honor knows I have disagreed in terms of the specific things I was found guilty on, but I respect the verdict and I also respect the American justice system."