Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for corruption, the apparent last step after a series of scandals destroyed his political career and helped steer a crisis-laden city even deeper into trouble.
Kilpatrick was mayor from 2002 until fall 2008, and bilked the city out of tens of thousands of dollars and traveled the country in private planes.
“I’m ready to go so the city can move on,” Kilpatrick told the judge. “The people here are suffering, they’re hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.”
Last March, Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. His schemes included shaking down contractors which was uncovered by his own text messages.
“A man with the charisma and ability of Mr. Kilpatrick chose to use his talents on personal aggrandizement and enrichment when he had the potential to do so much for the city,” Judge Nancy Edmunds said before imposing the sentence. The sentence was a victory for prosecutors, who had recommended Kilpatrick serve at least 28 years in prison, while defense attorneys argued for no more than 15 years.
CBS Detroit reports that Kilpatrick spoke in his own defense immediately before the sentence was handed down, giving a lengthy talk full of apologies and self-reflection in a subdued voice that riveted the packed courtroom and overflow room.
“I just humbly and respectfully ask for a fair sentence … I respect the jury’s verdict. I think your honor knows I have disagreed in terms of the specific things I was found guilty on, but I respect the verdict and I also respect the American justice system,” he said.