(WXYZ) — A federal court has ordered Paypal and Plumfund to turn over funds from accounts linked to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his wife Laticia. The government is seeking $193,303.61 that Kilpatrick still owes.
The couple launched a crowdfunding campaign in June to purchase a house in Florida. A deputy federal court clerk issued the writs of garnishment after a request from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
“If you looked up the definition of 'brazen' in the dictionary, we would find a big picture of Kwame Kilpatrick. So that is not all surprising,” said former US Attorney Matthew Schneider.
Schneider says the recent court filing against Kilpatrick was expected and is simple. The former Detroit mayor still owes thousands of dollars to the federal government and the city and if not paid, the government will find it and take it.
“It's typically not too difficult for the government to identify those places and require you to pay back," Schneider said. "Especially in a situation like this where Mr. Kilpatrick is so public about what he’s doing.”
Earlier this year, Kilpatrick and his wife posted a fundraising campaign and a baby registry online, asking for donations to help them buy a new home and raise their newborn. In response, the federal government sent garnishment notices to the couple, PayPal and to the crowdfunding platform Plumfund, seeking up to $193,000 of the money raised.
“I guess it’s the equivalent of taking a big flag and hoisting it up on your roof and saying ‘Here’s the money. I've got it. Come and get it, government,'" Schneider said.
The notices were filed July 11, giving Kilpatrick 20 days to request a hearing and argue for an exemption. It doesn't appear that has happened yet, but it's an argument Schneider believes Kilpatrick doesn’t have.
“I've looked at the statute and I'm not seeing any exemptions that would apply," Schneider said. "It seems to be, this is a straight, pretty clear-cut case."
As for the donors, their money is likely gone. Intended for the Kilpatrick family, it’s now likely to wind up in the hands of the government.
“This is more of a consumer protection message for people to realize that if you are going to give money away to somebody, you better be sure they are deserving of the money and they are the actual recipient,” Schneider said. “In this particular case it looks like although Mr. Kilpatrick is the temporary recipient, this money is going to be garnished and in the long run, he won't be the recipient.”
Kilpatrick was released from prison in January 2021 when then President Donald Trump commuted his sentence. Kilpatrick had served seven years of a 28-year sentence on racketeering, extortion, bribery and other charges related to several crimes when he was Detroit mayor from 2002 to 2008.
Kilpatrick did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday afternoon.