Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit who was once seen as the embodiment of the hope of a new generation of political leadership, was convicted Monday on a broad array of charges, from fraud to corruption, ending a trial that had galvanized the attention of that city for months.
Kilpatrick was convicted on 24 of 30 counts in a trial in which the former mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and a city contractor, Bobby W. Ferguson, were co-defendants. Ferguson was convicted of racketeering and the elder Kilpatrick was found guilty on a tax charge.
The former mayor was found guilty of five counts of extortion, racketeering, bribery and several mail, wire and tax fraud charges. He was found not guilty on three counts. No verdict was reached on the other three counts.
Kilpatrick, who since his resignation moved to the Dallas area with his wife and three children, could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.
Shortly after the verdict was announced, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing issued a statement calling on Detroiters to look forward.
“I am pleased that this long trial has ended and we can finally put this negative chapter in Detroit’s history behind us,” said Bing, who was Kilpatrick’s successor. “It is time for all of us to move forward with a renewed commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our city government.”
It was a dramatic fall from grace for the man who was elected in 2001 at the age of 31 as the youngest mayor of Detroit. “I was raised here in the city of Detroit; I went to these Detroit public schools,” Kilpatrick said in his inaugural address in 2002. “This position is personal to me. It's much more than just politics.”
However, before long, things began to dismantle for Kilpatrick. He was beset by a number of scandals in which he was accused of corruption. He eventually resigned in 2008 after being charged with 10 counts of felony. After pleading guilty to reduced charges, he was sentenced to four months in jail, but was released on probation after serving 99 days.
Kilpatrick was raised in a political family. His mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, is a former Congresswoman from Michigan, and his father served as chief of staff to the former executive of Wayne County, Michigan.