Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, convicted on corruption charges, was dealt another blow last week by a judge flat out denied his motion for unsupervised release.
A judge cited Kilpatrick’s failure to accept responsibility for his corruption charges and continued lavish lifestyle despite thousands owed in unpaid debts.
“Kilpatrick committed very serious crimes, and he still owes a significant amount of restitution,” U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said in her opinion issued on Feb. 2.
The Detroit Free Press reports Kilpatrick still owes $854,000 in unpaid restitution.
Kilpatrick was convicted in 2013 for racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes, The Associated Press reported. He was sentenced to a 28-year prison sentence but was released in 2021 after former President Donald Trump granted him a commutation.
Since his early release, Kilpatrick has made several public statements in the media which helped fuel Judge Edmunds’ decision to deny him unsupervised release, a condition upon his commutation alongside repaying restitution.
On Apr. 21, 2022, Kilpatrick told Craig Melvin during a “Today Show” interview, “I did the perjury, but all this mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracies, absolutely not.” He went on to maintain his innocence on the majority of his other charges.
In December 2022, Kilpatrick discussed his decision not to appeal the $1.5 million in restitution after getting his prison sentence commuted.
“I would have got out of prison with the commutation, and I would have only had 18 days to file [the appeal of restitution] when I got home and so I would have come home and filed it and it would have been news articles saying Kilpatrick tried to get out of paying his restitution and they would have had y’all hating me again,” he said during an interview with podcaster Anton Daniels.
Kilpatrick also believes he was a victim as a Black man amid his corruption scandal.
“I call it in the ‘N—erization Process’ where you take a really good African-American man who’s a husband, a father who has his own podcast but then when he steps out in the public you n-ggerize him. You talk about all the money and how he dresses, and he’s too Black,” Kilpatrick said.
Also in December 2022, Kilpatrick filed his motion explaining to the court why he felt his three years of supervised release should be terminated.
“Denying Kilpatrick the opportunity for a second chance could potentially stymie his ability to positively impact the many individuals who are inclined to make the same terrible decisions that he once did,” the former mayor said in his motion, according to WJBK. Kilpatrick also claimed he was an ordained minister and wishes to travel as a pastor without having to go through the probation office.
Judge Edmunds cited Kilpatrick’s recent media comments as an added reason for her decision to deny his motion for early unsupervised release.
“During an interview on the ‘Today Show’, Defendant admitted committing perjury and lying about his extramarital affair but flatly denied committing the twenty-four federal crimes of which he was found guilty. Such statements undermine society’s faith in our criminal justice system and do not show an acceptance of responsibility. In sum, the Court finds that the relevant sentencing factors, as a whole, weigh against early termination of supervised release,” Edmunds said.
Social media users in Detroit expressed mixed opinions on the former mayor’s situation.
“He IS ‘FREE’. He got pardoned and he’s walking around. He just doesn’t have the privacy needed to commit more crimes,” Chris Mason-Williams said on Facebook.
“He needs to thank God he is out of jail, pay his restitution and quietly live his life,” Debra Jackson commented on Facebook.
In January 2002, Kilpatrick started his tenure as mayor of Detroit amid fanfare but his time in office would eventually be marred in controversy after he was accused of misusing city funds.
“He systematically exploited his office to enrich himself, his friends, and his family,” the FBI said in a report.
Kilpatrick was accused of “getting bags of cash from city contractors, kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser and private cross-country travel from businessmen,” The Associated Press reported.
The former mayor was embroiled in a text-messaging scandal with his chief of staff that kickstarted an investigation by authorities to unveil perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Kilpatrick resigned from office in 2008 amid the investigation.
The federal investigation into Kilpatrick’s corruption landed him 24 felony convictions. He was sentenced to a 28-year federal prison sentence. He served seven years in prison before receiving clemency from President Trump.
“Criminal activity was a way of life for him, and he constantly used the power of his office to look for new opportunities to make money illegally,” FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman said in 2013 statement issued by the FBI.
Thirty-two other people were convicted of crimes in connection with Kilpatrick’s case.
Kilpatrick’s co-defendant Bobby Ferguson was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He served eight years in prison before being granted compassionate release in April 2021. Ferguson also requested his unsupervised release in a motion that was denied by the judge. Both Kilpatrick and Ferguson were accused of corruption by steering city contracting work to Ferguson’s contracting business.
“Kilpatrick and Ferguson obtained more than $500,000 from the state of Michigan and private donors for non-profit organizations they controlled. The organizations were supposed to help the community. Instead, the mayor spent large sums on himself for luxury vacations, spa treatments, and golf clubs,” according to the FBI.
Despite his conviction and sentiments from the court, Kilpatrick still has supporters on his side.
“Come and tell the truth Kwame!!” Mary Evans said in the YouTube comments section of Kilpatrick’s podcast interview. “I knew better than what they was trying to say. You were for the city and the people,” she added.