Former Detroit Mayor Convicted Of Corruption, Racketeering

Mar 11, 2013
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Now, news from a federal court in Detroit. Today, after two weeks of deliberation, a jury today convicted former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, of widespread corruption and racketeering.

From member station WDET in Detroit. Quinn Klinefelter has the details.

QUINN KLINEFELTER, BYLINE: The government argued that Kilpatrick ran Detroit's City Hall like an organized crime syndicate, extorting millions of taxpayer's dollars from city contractors and steering them to his friend, Bobby Ferguson; taking kickbacks and using his own father, Bernard, as a go-between.

The jury essentially agreed convicting the former mayor on 24 of the 30 counts, including racketeering, extortion, fraud and tax evasion.

U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade says Kilpatrick viewed the city's coffers as a chance to line his pockets.

BARBARA MCQUADE: One juror said that she is a Detroiter and voted for Kwame Kilpatrick for mayor twice, herself. But that the evidence she saw in this case made her stomach turn.

KLINEFELTER: Jurors say they reached the verdict last Friday but wanted a final weekend to sleep on it.

Kilpatrick's highly-publicized fall from grace polarized Detroiters, even after the verdict was read.

At a Detroit bus stop, several people argue over the legacy of their city's youngest mayor. Andrea Little remembers him luring the Super Bowl to Detroit and touting his love for the city and his family.

ANDREA LITTLE: I think he did some wrong stuff. Don't get me wrong, he did do some wrong stuff. But he did a lot of right for this town. Yeah, a lot of stuff wouldn't have been happening if it weren't for him. He going to jail now, so his kids going to be hurt.

KLINEFELTER: But Harry Main can't get over Kilpatrick previously admitting lying under oath about salacious text messages revealing an affair with his chief of staff and the way he tarnished the city.

HARRY MAIN: What your kids got to look up to now? You ran around here and did all that you did, so now you got to do all that time you got. So deal with it.

KLINEFELTER: Co-defendant Bobby Ferguson was also convicted of racketeering charges. Kilpatrick's father Bernard was found guilty on a tax charge. The racketeering conspiracy convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

For NPR News, I'm Quinn Klinefelter in Detroit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.