DETROIT (WXYZ) - Derrick Miller’s guilty plea is a coup for the government in their efforts to convict the former mayor. Legal experts say having a former Kilpatrick insider cooperate for the prosecution could be a blow to the defense Kwame Kilpatrick and his co-defendants.
As part of the plea agreement, Derrick Miller admitted, among other things, that he delivered a $10,000 bribe to Kwame Kilpatrick. This is the first time were Kilpatrick has been specifically named in a court pleading as having received money directly... which means this plea deal could be spell trouble for the former mayor.
Detroit’s former Chief Administrative Officer and long time friend of Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to corruption and tax charges in federal court today. As part of his plea deal, Derrick Miller, 41, agreed to cooperate in the federal government’s continuing investigation into public corruption in Detroit. That means the man who once helped Kilpatrick run the city could be testifying against him next year.
“This is an important step, that someone from inside the office, rather than people on the outside, saying here’s what I understood. Miller can say, here’s what happened,” Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning told Action News Investigator Heather Catallo. Henning is a former federal prosecutor.
“It certainly increases the pressure on the other remaining defendants, most importantly the former mayor,” said Henning.
Last December, federal prosecutors charged former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, former city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former water department head Victor Mercado, and Miller with racketeering and other crimes. They’re accused of running something called the Kilpatrick Enterprise to enrich themselves through bid rigging and extortion.
Miller’s plea agreement is the first admission made public in court pleadings where he says he handed Kwame Kilpatrick a $10,000 bribe.
“This is the link to putting the money into the former mayor’s hands,” said Henning. “Just because you think someone is getting the money, doesn’t mean that person received it, so Mr. Miller could be crucial to giving that last step. The money came in, and here’s how it went.”
Miller also admitted in the plea that at Kilpatrick’s direction – Miller and other members of Kilpatrick’s administration helped the former mayor and Ferguson by steering millions of dollars of City business to Ferguson. Henning says as an insider, Miller can provide crucial details to prove the RICO enterprise.
“He provides context for how the alleged enterprise operated,” said Henning. “And that’s what the government has to prove, and it’s often a significant hurdle, that’s it’s not a series of isolated crimes, but in fact there’s common theme to it, which was essentially a type of extortion or bribery.”
Outside of federal court Monday morning, Miller’s attorney, Byron Pitt, told reporters, “My client, like all of you is human, some mistakes have been made. Today he acknowledged those mistakes, today is the first day of the rest of his life, and he’s moving forward.”
The Assistant US Attorney handling the case is recommending that Derrick Miller receive no more than 10 years in prison – but the government is willing to reduce that prison sentence if his cooperation in the case is considered “substantial.” Miller likely won’t be sentenced until after the trial next September.
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