Courtesy of The Huffington Post
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty of multiple counts of racketeering and extortion, a jury decided Monday. Kilpatrick was convicted of 24 charges, including racketeering, extortion, attempted extortion, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false tax returns. Both Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were found guilty on most counts. Kilpatrick’s 71-year-old father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was only found guilty of one tax count.
Jurors deliberated for 15 days before announcing that they were ready to vote on a verdict. The 12 members of this jury have spent 79 hours total deliberating all the details from the five-month trial.
Reporters in the courtroom said the three men all maintained stoic exteriors as the verdicts were read over seven minutes’ time. The former Detroit mayor was convicted of 24 out of 30 total charges. Contractor Bobby Ferguson was convicted of nine out of 11 total counts. The jury reached a unanimous decision on 45 of 50 total felony charges levied by prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds thanked the 12 members of the jury before reading the verdict, saying, “These jurors did an extraordinary job.”
A statement sent to The Huffington Post by current Mayor Dave Bing said, “I am pleased that this long trial has ended and we can finally put this negative chapter in Detroit’s history behind us. It is time for all of us to move forward with a renewed commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our City government.”
None of the defendants offered any comment to reporters after exiting the courtroom on Monday morning.
Among other charges, Kwame Kilpatrick and Ferguson were convicted of RICO, or racketeering charges, federal laws that were created to punish ongoing criminal acts performed by a criminal organization.
According to WXYZ, some jurors have expressed an interest in talking to the mediaand will address reporters soon. A bond hearing for all three men will take place Monday afternoon. According to the Detroit Free Press, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will ask that the three men will be detained while the appeal process occurs. Sentencing will likely not occur for several months.
This is a developing story..
The five month corruption trial alleged that Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson ran a criminal enterprise out of Detroit’s City Hall. Prosecutors said the former Detroit mayor, who has already served over a year in prison for perjury, spent $840,000 more during his tenure than he earned.
Kilpatrick defense attorneys deny the charges. They admit that the former mayor accepted cash gifts from his friends, but say he’s broken no laws.
Among other accusations from the case, federal prosecutors have said that Kilpatrick operated a fund for the needy called the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, with the aim of helping Detroiters in need. Instead, they said, the former mayor used the money for yoga classes, golf clubs and vacations.
They’ve also targeted $84 million in contracts given to Kilpatrick’s friend Bobby Ferguson. Detroit businessman Tony Soave and other businesspeople with city work say they were forced to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor if they wanted to win city deals. In court, Soave told jurors that Kilpatrick racked up $389,000 in travel on his private plane.
During the trial, many witnesses claimed that Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard, demanded bribes in exchange for city contracts.
Kilpatrick left Detroit’s City Hall in 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice related to a text message sex scandal with a former employee. He served about a year in jail for those crimes and agreed to pay the city of Detroit $1 million in restitution.
In January the ex-mayor spent a weekend in jail for violating his parole by not reporting cash gifts he received in 2012.