Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking a judge to cut his court-ordered $1.6 million restitution payment or throw it out entirely.
In a filing made yesterday, Kilpatrick attorney Harold Gurewitz argues that it’s nearly impossible to determine the damage to city taxpayers caused by Kilpatrick’s public corruption conviction and, for that reason, restitution should not be paid.
In 2013, Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson, his longtime friend, were convicted of extortion, bribery and racketeering. The restitution figure stems from Kilpatrick's conviction on rigging bids that ultimately went to Ferguson.
The feds arrived at the current $1.6 million figure, the filing says, by subtracting the Ferguson bid’s total cost from the next lowest bidder. But it’s not that simple, Gurewitz says, and Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning agrees.
“This isn’t like a robbery where someone steals your wallet, takes your money and leaves,” said Henning, a former federal prosecutor. “You know how much was in the wallet. Here, this is a contract that was fulfilled and subcontractors were hired. How much was paid? How much would the contract have been awarded for? That’s all really speculative.”
Adding to the complexity, says Gurewitz, is the fact that cost was only one consideration in selecting bids. It was not the only factor and, therefore, using the total bid costs to determine total restitution makes little sense.
The latest court fight might seem unnecessary to casual observers since Kilpatrick has famously cried poor for years and never came close to paying back restitution from a separate 2008 perjury conviction. But the feds want to make sure that there's a clear order in place, Henning says, in case the ex-mayor stumbles into money down the road.
“Will he write the best-selling book, his memoirs?” Henning asked. “Will they find some bank account that keeps a secret stash of money? It’s really for down the road, it gives the government an order they can hold and will good for as long as he’s alive.”
Reached by phone today, Gurewitz had no comment.
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.