Sentenced to 28 Years: The End of Detroit's Mayor Kilpatrick

The ex-Detroit Mayor was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for a series of corruption scandals, extortion and “pay to play’ laws. Photo: Kwame Kilpatrick / Associated Press

DETROIT, October 10, 2013 –The once rising star for the city of Detroit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, brings to mind The United Negro College Fund tagline “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”. Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for a corruption scandal, extortion and violating “pay to play’ laws.

All of which, destroyed his once promising career and helped further delay Detroit’s economic recovery.

Kilpatrick, who held the title as the youngest Mayor of any major city, served as the city’s chief executive from 2002 until 2008. He quickly became known for extensive travels on private jets, increasing his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city’s already fragile budget. Kilpatrick spent time with Bad Boy Founder Sean Puffy Combs and other high profile rap artists.

All at the expense of Detroit tax payers.

At his arraignment, Kilpatrick humbly accepted responsibility, according to the Detroit Free Press, saying, ‘The people are suffering, they’re hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.”

But what exactly is the ex-Mayor responsible for?

Kilpatrick faced multiple counts of conspiracy fraud, tax related offenses, extortion and racketeering through an enterprise of personal friends, sub-contractors and illegal business dealings.

Kilpatrick, unlike former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, did not learn that staying off the phones can literally save one’s political career. Federal investigators revealed that all of Kilpatrick’s illegal dealings and even extra marital affairs were recorded via text messages.

Agents who investigated Kilpatrick’s business dealings claimed he had multiple bank accounts amounting to more than $850,000 on top of the Mayor’s already $176,176.00 annual salary. 

The ex-Mayor even created a false nonprofit fund, set aside as a ‘smokescreen for destitute low-income Detroit families, to further bankroll his own personal and family affairs. Once again at the expense of Detroit tax payers.

A man with all the political connections, charm, and custom made Italian linen suits, unfortunately chose to use his talents for his own personal gain. Kilpatrick even possessed the opportunity to one day fill the vacant Congressional seat once occupied by his own mother, former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick.

Now, the verdict has decided that he will instead spend the next 28 years behind bars. So what does this mean for the city of Detroit? A city once glamorized by coverage of Kilpatrick’s consistent lies to cover up an unwarranted affair, a police cover up and the embezzling of hundreds’ of thousands of dollars which quickly solicited unnecessary media attention to a city already struggling to sustain itself.

Soon metro-Detroiters will soon have the choice to elect a new mayor, although the city is still under State control via Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and State Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Orr, not as popular amongst Detroiters, was forced earlier this year to direct Detroit into bankruptcy as away to resolve the city’s almost $20 billion dollar deficit.

Hopefully Mayoral frontrunner Mike Duggan, if successful, will be the change that Detroit deserves, patching old wounds of a city plagued by corruption and scandal.

Although, Kwame Kilpatrick contributed to just one part of Detroit’s fiscal failure, as all other past Detroit Mayor’s who may have taken advantage of their post—he just happened to be the one that got caught.

Once again, the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.

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