When it comes to public corruption, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is the worst of the worst.
Pictured: Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick makes his way in to federal court in Detroit on March 11. / Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press
That's what federal prosecutors argued on Thursday in asking a judge to sentence Kilpatrick to at least 28 years in prison for his multitude of crimes -- a request that raised eyebrows within the legal community as some experts said Kilpatrick could get the stiffest punishment for public corruption in U.S. history.
The government says he deserves it, noting Kilpatrick's sentencing guidelines call for up to life in prison.
"Kilpatrick is more culpable -- and his conduct more pervasive -- than any other public corruption defendant sentenced in recent memory. His guideline range reflects that. So should his sentence," federal prosecutors wrote in their 57-page sentencing memo.
In pushing for a tough sentence, prosecutors argued that Kilpatrick abused the public's trust for years, put his own needs before those of the impoverished city he was supposed to serve, and ran a racket out of his office so that he, his family and his longtime contractor friend, Bobby Ferguson, could get rich.
"And worst of all, he did it a city where poverty, crime and a lack of basic services made it one of the most vulnerable metropolitan areas in the nation," prosecutors wrote. "The scale of his corruption was astonishing. The impact on the region was devastating."
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds will sentence Kilpatrick and Ferguson on Oct. 10. The government says that Ferguson, a contractor who scored $127 million worth of city contracts while his friend was mayor, "is deserving of a sentence at or near that of Kilpatrick." It is seeking a maximum 28-year sentence for Ferguson, noting that's at the high end of public corruption sentences handed down across the country. The range, they said, is between 14 and 28 years.
"Although Bobby Ferguson was not a public official, he worked hand-in-glove with Mayor Kilpatrick in a criminal partnership of enormous proportions," prosecutors wrote, noting at least $73 million in contracts were awarded illegally to Ferguson. "It was Ferguson, rather than Kilpatrick, who was the 'boots on the ground' of the extortion enterprise, directly using threats to the local businesspeople."
Reid Schar, the federal prosecutor who successfully prosecuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a 2011 public corruption trial, said the 28-year sentence request for Kilpatrick is noteworthy, but not surprising.
SOURCE: Tresa Baldas
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Free Press