Taxpayers pay more than $1.1M for the defense of Kwame Kilpatrick, his father

(WXYZ) - More than $1.1 million – that's how much taxpayers have paid so far for the defense of Kwame Kilpatrick and his father.

The total for Kwame Kilpatrick comes to $813,806.14.  That figure includes fees for 5 different court appointed lawyers, as well as an accountant, an investigator, a jury consultant, and trial transcripts.  

Here are the lawyer fees:

Jim Thomas $429,755.11

Mike Naughton $260,625.00

Joseph Niskar $34,925.00

Harold Gurewitz $17,887.50

Regina Triplett $5,280.00

Bernard Kilpatrick's trial tab totals $352,777.53.  That amount includes the cost of his lawyer, an investigator, paralegal services, and transcript fees.  Lawyer John Shea received $224,957.15.

The grand total of court-appointed costs so far totals $1,166,583.67.  

Federal prosecutors accused the men of running a criminal enterprise out of Detroit's city hall.

Judge Nancy Edmunds released the figures at 3:00 pm Wednesday.  The 7 Action News Investigators requested the information after a jury found Detroit's former mayor and his friend, Bobby Ferguson, guilty of racketeering, bribery, extortion and other crimes back in March.  

Ferguson paid for his own legal defense.  Kwame Kilpatrick will be appealing his conviction. Bernard Kilpatrick agreed not to appeal after federal prosecutors agreed not to re-try him on the RICO charge.  The jurors were deadlocked on whether Bernard Kilpatrick was guilty of RICO.  He was convicted of a sole tax crime.

The fees for the court appointed lawyers are expected to grow, as Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal gets underway.

Also Victor Mercado, the ex-Water Department director who took a guilty plea part way through the 5 five month corruption trial, has taxpayer-funded lawyers as well.  The judge won't release those totals until after he's sentenced.

"Our system is such that we have to make sure that everyone receives the benefit of counsel," said 7 Action News Legal Analyst Tom Cranmer.  While the numbers seem high, Cranmer says you should keep in mind the huge amount of work all of the lawyers had to do.

"All of the lawyers that in this case that were court appointed actually do work privately as well, and the rate they ordinarily would charge their clients would be three or four times the amount they would receive as court appointed lawyers," said Cranmer.

The standard rate for a lawyer doing court appointed federal work is $125 an hour.  Factor that amount into, for example, Jim Thomas' total figure, and it shows he put in more than 3,400 hours.

Federal prosecutors say it's hard to calculate how much they spent, because they don't track those kinds of costs because their attorneys and staff get paid regardless of what case they're working on.

For the Kilpatrick case, they did not authorize any overtime pay.  They also point out the taxpayers recovered more than $7 million that were forfeited by the defendants.  Federal prosecutors, FBI, IRS, and EPA agents worked for nearly a decade on the case.

Kilpatrick is serving 28 years in federal prison.  Ferguson was sentenced to 21 years, and Bernard Kilpatrick is serving a 15 month prison sentence.



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