Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned in disgrace as Detroit's mayor in 2008 was handed a 28-year jail sentence on Thursday, for widespread series of financial schemes that helped to deepen the crisis facing the city he once led.
The 28-year sentence matches the minimum asked for by federal prosecutors. Kilpatrick's defense team argued that the former mayor should spend no more than 15 years in jail for his crimes. In March, Kilpatrick was convicted on 24 counts of corruption charges, including racketeering, extortion and bribery. His network of abuses of power was nicknamed “Kilpatrick Incorporated" by prosecutors. Among other things, Kilpatrick awarded hefty city contracts to personal friends in exchange for kickbacks, and took substantial amounts of cash for personal use from his campaign donations. Federal judge Nancy G. Edmunds said that the 28-year sentence would "send a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated."
Prosecutors argued in court documents that Kilpatrick was not the "main" catalyst for the city's disastrous financial troubles — plunging it into bankruptcy earlier this year. That, prosecutors said, was due to "decades" of "larger social and economic forces." But his corrupt tenure as mayor, from 2002 until 2008, "exacerbated" the existing crisis in the city and made Kilpatrick one of the most recognizable symbols of Detroit's failures.
The Detroit Free Press notes that Kilpatrick will almost certainly appeal in an attempt to overturn his convictions or his sentence. But trial watchers saw few grounds on which the former mayor might earn a new trial. Even if Kilpatrick appeals on the grounds that the sentence is excessive, the Free Press adds that federal courts rarely overturn federal sentences.