DETROIT (WXYZ) - Taking cash is what landed Kwame Kilpatrick in federal prison last year. Today, he's hoping that's what will get him out.
In November, the ex-mayor's mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick started the Freedom and Justice Trust, designed to raise money to pay for her son's appeal and spring him from prison.
In YouTube videos that she narrates, Cheeks Kilpatrick says her son was brought down by a grand conspiracy organized by the media and the feds.
"I just think, and this is mother talking, that my son was so good and helped so many people for so many years," she said. "That someone thought he ought to be taken down."
Interested donors are told that funds will only be used to pay attorney fees and other costs associated with fighting the ex-mayor's conviction on 24 corruption counts. Contributions don't need to be disclosed publicly, says the trust website, and there's "no legal limit" to how much you can give.
The fund touts Kilpatrick's accomplishments as mayor like building hotels, recreation centers and fixing city streets. It neglects to mention, though, the scores of one-time friends who testified under oath that the ex-mayor took bribes in office.
As part of its pitch for donations, the trust invokes the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King. It compares Kilpatrick's fight with Dr. King's struggle for equal rights, and it didn't play very well with many who viewed it online.
"Using Dr King's words in your video is disgusting," wrote Timothy Steffes. "Have some respect!"
"Don't give this man a dime," said another. "He has exactly what he deserves."
Kilpatrick owes $4.6 million to the City of Detroit in the form of restitution as a result of his criminal conviction and over $800,000 from his perjury conviction in 2008. The U.S. Attorney says any funds given to help Kilpatrick could be pursued to pay those debts.
Contact Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.