After organizing a “historic and unprecedented extortion scheme” from City Hall, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his partner Bobby Ferguson may be sentenced to 28 years or more if prosecutors have their way.
U.S. attorneys for Michigan’s Eastern District issued the memo that stated Ferguson should serve 14-28 years and Kilpatrick 28 years in prison. They feel Kilpatrick’s crimes committed while in office for six years were a widespread and corrosive breach of trust” and exceeded the usual city and state corruption cases to their knowledge.
“Kwame Kilpatrick was entrusted by the citizens of Detroit to guide their city through one of its most challenging periods. The city desperately needed resolute leadership. Instead it got a mayor looking to cash in on his office through graft, extortion and self-dealing,” the memo recommending Kilpatrick’s sentence read.
According to prosecutors, Kilpatrick transferred $127 million in contracts through the mayor’s office to Ferguson. Ferguson was working as a contractor and head of Ferguson Enterprises. Kilpatrick was convicted of 24 charges, including racketeering, extortion, attempted extortion, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false tax returns, after a five-month federal trial that concluded in March.During Kilpatrick’s administration, Ferguson is said to have extorted around $73 million worth of contracts and fees and convicted on nine counts.
“While Ferguson relied on Kilpatrick to back up his threats, Ferguson drove the extortion machine,” prosecutors said in the 30-page sentencing memorandum for Ferguson. “With ruthless abandon, he bullied local businessmen and women, threatening to cancel their contracts and promising to visit financial harm upon them if they did not accede to his demands.”
The memorandum claims that Ferguson’s dealings put many other black companies out of business, despite his defense team’s attempt to paint his as advocate of other minority-owned businesses in the area.
“Ferguson’s text messages with Kilpatrick revealed that far from promoting other African-American businesses, he actively undermined them, then laughed at their attempts at getting redress from the city administration,” the sentencing memo reads.