December 16, 2010

Former Detroit Mayor, Family And Friends Indicted On Racketeering Charges

The Wall Street Journal
written by Samuel Rubenfeld
Wednesday December 15, 2010

A federal grand jury indicted former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father and three former aides on racketeering charges on Wednesday, the Detroit Free-Press reported.

Kilpatrick, who is currently in jail on other charges, was part of a 38-count, 89-page indictment that included his father Bernard Kilpatrick, city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former top Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller and former water department chief Victor Mercado. The indictment says they extorted money from municipal contractors, state and non-profit donors and engaged in bribery and extortion involving other public contracts and investments.

The Free-Press spoke to Kilpatrick’s lawyer, who maintained his client’s innocence. “We look forward to fighting this case. I’ve talked to my client who is upbeat and is up for the fight,” said James Thomas, Kilpatrick’s attorney. “We expect that he’s going to be vindicated at trial as well.”

Citing the indictment, the Free-Press reported that prosecutors say Ferguson kicked back at least $424,000 in cash and other items of value to the mayor and that Kilpatrick used more than $590,000 in cash derived from the conspiracy to pay his credit card bills, purchase cashier’s checks and clothing and repay loans. Bernard Kilpatrick deposited more than $600,000 in cash into his personal bank accounts, and he was charged with filing false tax returns in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

After the charges were announced, Bernard Kilpatrick’s attorney John Shea said: “Obviously, this news is disappointing, but at least we’ll finally know what it is we’re fighting. And Bernard is prepared for the fight.” Martin Crandall, Mercado’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment by the Free-Press, Ferguson’s lawyer didn’t comment beyond saying a press conference was unusual and Miller’s attorney said the jury system is biased in favor of prosecutors but didn’t comment on the charges because he had yet to see them, according to the Free-Press’ report.

The federal corruption probe in Detroit, first reported in 2008 by the Free Press, has led to charges against 20 people, of whom 15 were convicted, the report said.

The indictment, via Talking Points Memo, is below:

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