DETRIOT (WXYZ) - Twenty-eight years behind bars. That is the dramatic end of Kwame Kilpatrick’s reign as Detroit’s 60 th mayor.
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced Kilpatrick today following a more than three-hour hearing in federal court.
It is difficult to quantify the “…cost of the corrosive pay-to-play system that Kilpatrick set into motion,” said Edmunds. “One thing is certain. It was the citizens of Detroit who suffered.”
Kilpatrick, who a jury convicted of racketeering and 23 other federal charges earlier this year, didn’t appear surprised when Edmunds delivered the bad news. He was leaning back in his chair, his hands on his lap; his eyes appeared tired and strained.
“We lost transparency. We lost accountability,” said Edmunds, just before handing down her ruling. “No one was really looking into it until the press got a hold of it and opened the door on what was happening in city hall.”
U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade called today’s sentencing “historic.”
"The message is clear; public officials will be held accountable in the city of Detroit," said McQuade. “We're hopeful this powerful message that we will not tolerate stealing from our citizens."
Edmunds gave several reasons for the lengthy sentence, including that Kilpatrick's crimes extended during his entire six years as mayor, and began even earlier when he was in the state legislature.
“Although he expressed contrition this morning...he has generally shown little remorse for the activity in which he was indicted, tried and found guilty,” said Edmunds, adding that Kilpatrick indicated that his trial was “…nothing more than a media witch hunt.”
Edmunds apparently wasn’t moved by the nearly 30-minute statement Kilpatrick delivered just before his sentence. With notes in front of him, he stood up and spoke at the lectern, then released a long sign. Unlike the confident, booming voice we have grown to know, Kilpatrick was barely audible.
“I’ve thought a lot about what to say today…I wrote down some notes while I was sitting there because I don’t want to mess up,” said Kilpatrick. I respect you, I respect the job you have to do. I respect the diligence in which you've engaged in this process. Um, and you have to render a sentence today. I respect that. I just humbly ask for a fair sentence based on what happened here. I respect the jury's verdict. I think your honor knows I disagree with it.”
Kilpatrick then praised the prosecution for how they did their jobs, calling them “excellent” lawyers, Kilpatrick addressed the citizens of Detroit.
“If the people of the city can hear me, I want to change the city's collective conscious...from a collective conscious of yesterday to a collective conscious of tomorrow,” said Kilpatrick. “I think we've spent too much time dealing with me, and I'm ready to go...so the city can move on. People here are suffering, they're hurting...and a great deal of that hurt, I accept full responsibility for. I've apologized to everyone who will listen, but it never seems to be heard.”
“All I ever wanted to do in my life was to be mayor. I didn't want to be president or governor. I went to law school, but I didn't want to be a lawyer,” said Kilpatrick, who appeared to be choking up. “I wanted to be mayor of the City of Detroit. After spending months on the job, six months, I hated it. I absolutely hated it.”
He did not admit to any crimes while mayor except for lying about his affair with his former chief of staff Christine Beatty.
“I lied about an affair. That was a lie I was living. I didn't accept responsibility for it. I was mad they found out,” said Kilpatrick.
When he left Detroit, he said he blew the happiness he found with his family in Texas.
“I got it, I got it after I left here. And when I left here (Detroit), I had the most amazing opportunities in my life,” said Kilpatrick. “For the first time in my life, I was happy...for the first time, I enjoyed being with my wife and children.”
Kilpatrick stood up for his co-defendant Bobby Ferguson, who a jury also convicted of racketeering and other charges. Ferguson will be sentenced tomorrow.
“Bobby Ferguson had a very lucrative business before I was mayor. He was making $20 million a year before I was mayor, and I was just proud of him,” said Kilpatrick, who denied that the two men strong-armed any businesses to pay them in order to get work with city.
In closing, Kilpatrick apologized to the city and his family, specifically, his mother, former U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, who he said lost her congressional seat after seven terms, because of him.
“My mom who was an incredible public servant, she lost her job because of her son. The son she raised and fed, made him to his homework...he killed her career,” he said.
Kilpatrick said he asked his family not to be present because he had already subjected them to enough. His immediate family, including his mother and dad were not in court today.
“I didn’t want them to have further damage,” he said.