DETROIT (WXYZ) - Kwame Kilpatrick is in federal custody on the eve of a court date to face fraud and tax charges that could lock him up for 20 years.
In the last few years, Detroit’s embattled former mayor has practically had a parade of attorneys defending him in court. Now, as he faces federal tax and fraud charges – Kwame Kilpatrick is expected to ask for court-appointed counsel.
By some estimates, the former mayor has likely spent close to a million dollars on lawyers. Between the perjury case, the probation violation, and after all the hearings and appeals, Kilpatrick is about to tell a federal magistrate that he’s out of money.
And that means the taxpayers may have to foot the bill for his legal defense.
When Kwame Kilpatrick is arraigned on 19 counts of tax and fraud charges Tuesday, the former mayor is expected to tell the magistrate that he cannot afford an attorney on his own.
When he arrives at the federal courthouse, Kilpatrick will fill out this financial affidavit. He’ll have to disclose details about his employment, any outside income that he’s received during the past 12 months and the source of that income. The affidavit requires him to state the total amount of cash on hand in his checking and savings accounts.
Since Kilpatrick is in prison right now, he’s not earning an income. The affidavit also requires full disclosure about obligations, so Kilpatrick will have to reveal the extent of his bills and debts.
Channel 7 Legal Analyst Tom Cranmer said, “I think that given the former mayor’s circumstances, the fact that he owes a substantial amount of restitution to the city of Detroit, it’s likely that the court will end up appointing counsel for him.”
Cranmer said typically a defendant who needs a court-appointed attorney would be referred to the Federal Defenders office. In Kilpatrick’s case, that probably won’t happen because there may be too many conflicts of interest.
“I think the defenders office has already been involved in representing some other individuals under investigation, so the high likelihood is that they would not be able to handle this case, but would be able to refer it out to what they call a panel attorney,” Cranmer said.
It just so happens that Kilpatrick’s long-time lawyer, Jim Thomas, is a federal panel attorney.
“In a situation like this, where a lawyer has had a long history with a client, as Jim Thomas has with the former mayor, I think the likelihood, if he’s willing to do it, Jim Thomas would once again be appointed to represent the former mayor,” said Cranmer.
Once he’s in court, a plea of not guilty is expected to be entered on Kilpatrick’s behalf, then the long legal journey begins.
Jim Thomas has told Action News this will not be a speedy trial. There is a lot of material to go through. It could be months or years until this case winds down.
The Michigan Department of Corrections has handed Kilpatrick over to the U.S. Marshals. That hand-off took place in St. Louis, Michigan around 11 a.m. Monday.
Now that he’s in federal custody, it is very likely that he will stay in a federal facility for the duration of this case.
If Kilpatrick is granted bond in the tax fraud case, he could go back into state custody. Either way, he’s going to be behind bars for a while.
Stay with Action News for the very latest. Investigator Heather Catallo will be covering Kilpatrick’s federal court arraignment on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.
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