Corruption at Detroit's City Hall: America's dirtiest mayor jailed for 28 years

Kwame Kilpatrick oversaw the downfall of the now-bankrupt city that was once the beating heart of US car production

He was the city mayor who lined his pockets as the one-time industrial powerhouse he presided over lay in ruins. And now, as he faces 28-years behind bars, the former mayor of Detroit has said the city can finally “move on” following a series of corruption scandals.

The conviction of Kwame Kilpatrick, who served as mayor for six years until 2008, brings to a sorry end the ruin of the man who represented the downfall of the now-bankrupt city that was once the beating heart of US car production.

In March the 43-year-old was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. He resigned as mayor after lying under oath in a lawsuit, later approving an $8.4million (£5.3m) settlement to cover it up.

During his time at the head of the North Eastern city 18 other officials were convicted of corruption while homes were repossessed, buildings lay vacant and street lights were switched off.

Last July Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy - the largest municipal filing in US history - with debts estimated at up to $20bn. Kilpatrick is said to fattened his bank accounts by hundreds of thousands of dollars as the city lay in ruins.

“I'm ready to go so the city can move on,” Kilpatrick said. “The people here are suffering, they're hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.”

Kilpatrick's correspondence revealed his efforts to fix lucrative contracts for his friend, Bobby Ferguson, an excavator who earned millions from the city water department.

Contractors said they were forced to take on Ferguson as a partner or risk losing lucrative deals. The Government alleged that he in turn shared cash with Kilpatrick. It is believed that Ferguson illegally received $73m in city contracts through Kilpatrick's manipulations. He is due to be sentenced on Friday after being convicted on nine counts of corruption.

The Democrat mayor's dealings - including brokering a $1.44bn deal in 2005 to restructure Detroit's pension liabilities - were widely blamed for driving the city towards bankruptcy.

Federal agents who poured over bank accounts and credit cards said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor. His defence attorneys subsequently attempted to portray the money as generous gifts from political supporters.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been sentenced to 28 years in prison Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been sentenced to 28 years in prison (Getty)
It was also alleged that Kilpatrick also tapped a non-profit fund, which was created to help distressed Detroit residents, to pay for yoga, camps for his children, golf clubs and travel.

“A man with the charisma and ability of Mr Kilpatrick chose to use his talents on personal aggrandisement and enrichment when he had the potential to do so much for the city,'' said Judge Nancy Edmunds before imposing the sentence. ”At the very least, a significant sentence will send a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated.“

Kilpatrick actually resigned in a different scandal that was extraordinary at the time but later seemed insignificant compared to the sweeping federal probe that has led to the mass convictions.

Sexually explicit text messages revealed that Kilpatrick had lied during a trial to cover up an affair with his top aide, Christine Beatty, and to hide the reasons for demoting or firing police officers who suspected wrongdoing at city hall.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz