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Trump commutes sentence of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, freeing him 20 years early

  • January 20, 2021

On his way out of the White House door, President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, freeing him 20 years early for public corruption crimes he was convicted of in 2013, according to the White House.  

Kilpatrick was among 143 people who were either pardoned or had their sentences commuted in Trump’s final hours.

Kilpatrick, who resigned from office in 2008 following a text message scandal disclosed by the Detroit Free Press, has been serving a 28-year federal prison sentence following his 2013 conviction on multiple corruption crimes, including racketeering, bribery, extortion and fraud.

All of his appeals failed over the years. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case. He sought a commutation from President Barack Obama, but it was denied. Both Kilpatrick and a group of his supporters, including millionaire businessman Peter Karmanos, appealed to Trump last year, seeking clemency. In the end, it was Trump who used his executive power to grant him freedom.

Here is what the White House said about the commutation:

“President Trump commuted the sentence of the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick. This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community, Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, Pastor Paula White, Peter Karmanos, Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of the Michigan House of Representatives, Representative Karen Whitsett of the Michigan House of Representatives, and more than 30 faith leaders.”

The statement continued:

“Mr. Kilpatrick has served approximately 7 years in prison for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while he held public office. During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”

Moving pictures: A video look back at Kwame Kilpatrick’s fall from grace

More:Donald Trump issues wave of pardons on last night of his presidency

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick listens to his lawyer Dan Webb speak to the media after Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty were charged with multiple counts ofperjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and misconduct charges. KATHLEEN GALLIGAN/Detroit Free Press

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, who has long argued that Kilpatrick deserved his 28-year prison sentence and should not be released early for his crimes, blasted the commutation decision.

“My position on the disgraced former mayor of Detroit has not changed. Kwame Kilpatrick has earned every day he served in federal prison for the horrible crimes he committed against the people of Detroit,” Schneider said. “He is a notorious and unrepentant criminal.”

Schneider added:

“Kilpatrick has served only one quarter of the sentence that was very appropriately imposed. Thankfully, Thankfully, under Michigan law, he cannot hold state or local public office for 20 years after his conviction.”

a mountain of debt when he gets out of prison — about $11 million, according to court records. His debts include:

  • $552,862 judgement for accepting private jet travel to Vegas, golf outings, Prince tickets and massages from an investor who was trying to close a $117-million deal with the city’s pension funds.
  • $7.4-million judgement issued to a minority contractor who sued Kilpatrick and his convicted contractor friend Bobby Ferguson, claiming water contracts were unfairly steered to Ferguson.
  • $852,000 in restitution to the City of Detroit stemming from the text message scandal. His last payment was made in 2013 — the year of his federal conviction.
  • $1.5 million in restitution to the Detroit water department stemming from his 2013 federal conviction, which involved steering lucrative contracts to Ferguson, who got 21 years in prison for his crimes. 
  • $195,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes.

has only 96 cents in the bank.

The Detroit Free Press spent years investigating Kilpatrick and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for exposing many of his wrongdoings in office, including publishing text messages that showed he lied about an affair with an aide and covered up the firing of a deputy police chief during a police whistleblower trial. 

Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

Article source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/642015482/0/usatodaycomwashington-topstories~Trump-commutes-sentence-of-exDetroit-Mayor-Kwame-Kilpatrick-freeing-him-years-early/

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