The five-month-long federal trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ended Monday with convictions on 24 counts of racketeering, fraud, extortion, bribery, and tax evasion.
Kilpatrick’s disastrous two terms as mayor ended in 2008, when then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm forced him out of office. Since then, Kilpatrick has bounced back and forth from courtrooms to prisons as prosecutors piled on the charges. The final tally found him guilty on 24 counts ranging from racketeering conspiracy to mail and wire fraud, according to The Detroit Free Press.
He and his co-conspirators — father Bernard Kilpatrick, and friend Bobby Ferguson — will likely receive 10-20 years in prison.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors painted a picture of a struggling Detroit, teetering on the brink of total economic collapse, left in the corrupt hands of Kilpatrick’s mafia-style leadership. Anyone who wanted to do business in Detroit had to appease the mayor, often by handing him envelopes full of cash.
Jurors said they considered each charge individually, and ultimately found the three men guilty on 40 out of 45 counts.
One juror said that the overwhelming evidence of Kilpatrick’s criminal behavior made her regret voting for him for mayor — twice.
“I was disappointed having done that,” she said. “Sitting on this trial for the last six months, I really, really saw a lot that turned my stomach.”
For many Michiganders, the disgust they feel for Kilpatrick — whose lavish, party lifestyle once earned him the nickname “America’s hip-hop mayor” — made Monday’s verdict a welcome thing. A local radio program, Mojo in the Morning, celebrated by renting an airplane to fly a banner over the city of Detroit. The banner read: “DON’T DROP THE SOAP, KWAME! [heart] MOJO.”
Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley called the charges just.
“He deserves to be behind bars,” wrote Finley in a column. “Kilpatrick allowed his insatiable appetites to destroy it all.”
Kilpatrick has vowed to fight the charges, according to his attorneys. As he left the courtroom, he could be heard saying, “No doubt, no fear.”
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