In the seemingly never ending saga of Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced former Detroit Mayor has asked the court to vacate his conviction. His latest motion adds a claim that he had a pre-trial fight with his attorney James Thomas.
Kwame Kilpatrick and James Thomas.
For those not familiar with the cases, Kilpatrick was first charged in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit for misconduct in office, perjury, obstruction of justice and assaulting an officer. His co-defendant was Christine Beatty, longtime paramour and former Chief of Staff.
He was sentenced by Judge David Groner to 120 days in jail and later re-sentenced to 1 1/2 to 5 years for violating his probation in that case. Co-Defendant Beatty pled guilty to 2 counts and was sentenced to 120 days in jail, with probation and restitution included in the sentence. She has been paying her restitution,
keeping a low profile and apparently, avoiding Kwame and his family.
Judge David Groner
In 2010, while still in prison on State charges, Kilpatrick, cohort Bobby Ferguson and father Bernard Kilpatrick were charged in Federal Court. Kilpatrick was released from prison in 2011 and granted bond in his Federal case. After several spurious attempts to delay his trial, trial began in 2012, nearly 2 years after he was indicted.
The case was heard by Senior Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds, a no-nonsense jurist who had little patience with defense counsel’s antics.
Judge Nancy Edmunds
After a 7 month trial, all three were found guilty of various charges.
In an unusual move, Kilpatrick and Ferguson were incarcerated pending sentencing. Bernard Kilpatrick remained free on bond. It is assumed that Kilpatrick and Ferguson would flee as there was evidence at trial that both had substantial funds stashed away. Also, Kilpatrick also had a history of not following conditions of bond in his State case, leaving the state and country more than once without court permission.
In October of 2013, nearly 13 months after the start of trial, Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in Federal Prison after being found guilty of 2 dozen felony counts including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and tax evasion, among others. His co-defendant Bobby Ferguson was sentenced to 21 years and Bernard Kilpatrick was sentenced to 15 months. Bernard reported to prison in January 2014 and has since been released.
Kilpatrick petitioned to be allowed to be sent to a prison in Texas near where his wife Carlita and sons had relocated. The Bureau of Prisons assigned him to FCI El Reno, a medium security prison in Oklahoma. El Reno is approximately 3 hours by car from Carlita’s home in Arlington Texas. Bobby Ferguson is housed at FCI Williamsburg in South Carolina.
Regarding Carlita, it is interesting to note that in a November 2016 FYPC article written by Shelia Deville, when asked whether they were still married, “she paused, looked down, smiled slightly and stated: That’s a personal question.”**
FCI El Reno
Since his conviction, Kilpatrick has appealed his sentence to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and when they denied his appeal, he petitioned to have his case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to hear his case in June of 2016.
One would think that would end the matter, but the law allows convicts to file a new appeal for a 1 year after being denied by the Supreme Court. In early July, he filed a 38 page appeal, some of it re-warmed original appellate claims and is asking Judge Edmunds to vacate his sentence. I doubt that she’ll do so as she has denied his motions following trial and according to legal experts, Kilpatrick had little chance of overturning his case in the first place.
About Kilpatrick. While in office, he operated on the “friends and family plan”. He had appointed 100 different officials to his administration, 29 of which were close friends or family member. Most had no credentials or expertise in the areas they were appointed to, but received raises up to 36% at a time when the City was cutting pay due to financial problems. He used City funds to pay for a lease of a $57,000 Lincoln Navigator for his family. He used his influence to funnel $175,000 of a State Grant to U.N.I.T.E., a company owned by Kilpatrick’s wife Carlita.
The State cancelled the grant when the grant recipients refused to divulge details as to how the money was being spent. There were whistle-blower suits that cost the City Millions of dollars in settlements due to the antics of Kilpatrick, his cronies and “security” detail. The list of his misdeeds goes on and on. Kilpatrick also established the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which was supposed to pay for voter education, economic empowerment and crime prevention. He treated that fund as a personal piggy bank, on one occasion, taking $8,600 from the fund to take his wife, three sons and babysitter on a week-long vacation to a five-star California resort, the La Costa Resort and Spa. Finally, his meddling in Detroit’s Pension funds resulted in Kilpatrick being named an unindicted co-conspirator in a complex criminal case that explains what happened to money from a $1.4 billion Wall Street deal blamed for helping plunge Detroit into bankruptcy. Detroit’s Bankruptcy was the largest in US history.
To date, Kilpatrick has taken no responsibility for any of his misdeeds. His family attempted to persuade then President Obama to intervene in the case, but the White House rebuffed all of the Kilpatrick family’s overtures. Early on, the President had expressed his disapproval of Kilpatrick by snubbing his later requests to visit Detroit while he was in office and not meeting with Kilpatrick when the Kilpatrick visited Washington DC prior to being charged.
Former President Obama
Some pundits speculated that President Obama would commute or pardon Kilpatrick at the end of his administration, despite all evidence to the contrary. Even if he had wished to do so, the Justice Department guidelines for pardons or commutations don’t allow for a commutation except under certain circumstances. “No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances” (Source: US DOJ). As to a pardon, “No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner” (Source US DOJ).
So while he continues to be an irritant, Kwame will likely and most deservedly, remain in prison until his sentence is complete.
Kwame Kilpatrick in
his natural setting
With time off for good behavior, his earliest possible release date will be August 1, 2037, when he is 67 years old.
**: Source, FYPC story, Kwame Kilpatrick’s Wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, Speaks at National Prison Summit by Sheila Deville