DETROIT (WXYZ) - Victor Mercado was appointed head of the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department from 2002 through 2008, by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Mercado earned $240,000 a year, which made him one of the highest paid public employees in the state.
Mercado was charged with racketeering, extortion, and obstruction of justice for allegedly rigging the water contracts process, according to court records. Mercado asked for a separate trial from Kilpatrick and the other co-defendants, but was denied.
Mercado pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial in November.
The plea marks the highest-level conviction secured by the government in its years-long probe into public corruption. The feds recommended that Mercado serve no more than 18-months in prison.
In open court, Mercado admitted to pressuring an employee of Walbridge, a major Detroit-based construction company, into hiring the mayor's friend Bobby Ferguson as part of a city contract.
Mercado is the second defendant of the alleged "Kilpatrick Enterprise" to plead guilty. Kilpatrick's long-time friend and high school classmate Derrick Miller plead guilty to tax evasion and public corruption and was used as a witness for the government.