Another person with close ties to ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is facing federal criminal charges.
Emma Bell, Kilpatrick’s longtime fund-raiser, was charged today in federal court with two counts of income tax evasion for allegedly failing to report more than half a million dollars she received from Kilpatrick’s inaugural and mayoral campaign committees, and the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Bell is expected to plead guilty and is cooperating. A plea date has not yet been set.
The Detroit Free Press reports that it is unknown whether Bell will testify against Kilpatrick in the federal corruption case against the former Detroit Mayor.
Earlier this month, Derrick Miller, a former aide to Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is expected to testify against his former boss.
Kwame Kilpatrick and Derrick Miller were indicted on corruption charges last December along with three other people:
Bernard Kilpatrick (the former Mayor's father),
Bobby Ferguson (city contractor and friend),
and Victor Mercado (former head of the Detroit Water and Sewarage Department).
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave his first interview in Detroit after leaving prison earlier this summer. Kilpatrick talked about prison, his personal life, and his self-proclaimed “resurrection” at Citadel of Faith church Tuesday night. Kilpatrick is promoting his book, “Surrendered: The Rise, Fall, and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick.” He says the book reflects a kind of divine inspiration, rather than his own ego.
An aide to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court. It’s part of a case that alleges Kwame Kilpatrick and others turned city hall into a criminal enterprise.
Derrick Miller was the chief administrative officer in the Kilpatrick administration. As part of the deal he’s expected to cooperate with prosecutors.
The Michigan Court of Appeals says former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick does not get to keep the money from sales of his new book until he has paid his restitution to the city.
Kilpatrick argued, through his attorney, that the government could not take the profits from his book without violating his First Amendment rights. He said that would keep him from earning a living by telling his story.
A lower court judge ordered profits from the book put into an escrow account under a Michigan law. It does not allow felons to profit from talking or writing about their crimes if they still owe restitution. The state is also trying to collect $15,000 from Kilpatrick to reimburse taxpayers for his 14-month prison stay.
Kilpatrick was recently released from prison. A judge in Detrot found he'd hidden assets that could have gone toward paying his $860,000 debt to the city.
Kilpatrick has been living with his family in a Dallas suburb since his release from prison. He is also traveling the country promoting his book. He could appeal the court decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has refused to hear the case of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is trying to shield book sale earnings from being seized as part of his restitution to the city.
The set-aside money will go toward paying the city of Detroit's $860,000 restitution tab. And as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the money will also go toward a bill of a little more than $15,000 from the state of Michigan to pay for Kilpatrick's prison time.
The New York Times Magazine published a Q & A with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick online today.
Adam Goldman asked Kilpatrick about his time in jail, his relationship with Christine Beatty, lying under oath, and more.
Kilpatrick told Goldman that lying under other was "the only illegal thing I've ever done in my life" and that the federal government's bribery and racketeering charges are false:
All of it is absolutely untrue. I’ve never accepted a bribe. I’ve never got a kickback. I’ve never steered a contract. It’s all ridiculous. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Goldman asked Kilpatrick about suggestions that he was brought down by a conspiracy. Kilpatrick said he never called it a conspiracy, but that investigations are "always ongoing" in politics to undermine others:
As the leader of the Democrats in the Statehouse, I ran campaigns all over the state, and we did opposition research. We looked into people’s finances. There’s constantly investigations, private eyes. Right now there are people conspiring to make sure that Barack Obama doesn’t win next time.
Kilpatrick told Goldman that he thought he would win if he ran for Mayor again, but said "it wouldn’t be the best thing for the people there."
Goldman said he was "amazed" that Kilpatrick was brought down by text messages from 2002 and 2003 - a time when people weren't texting all that much. Kilpatrick suggested he texted so the FBI couldn't record his phone calls:
The F.B.I. investigated Mayor Coleman Young, and they had all of these tapes of his phone calls. So, my thing was: “Hey, I’m doing this new texting thing. They can’t listen to this.” But now they can print it out and read it for all eternity.
Kilpatrick also appeared on the Tom Joyner Morning Show saying he lost 50 pounds in prison from working out and avoiding the bad food.
On the show, Kilpatrick said that the pending federal corruption case against him grew out of the political climate surrounding him after he lied under oath about the text messaging scandal. After that case, Kilpatrick said "all kinds of rumors" started with many people labeling him as Detroit's "Hip Hop Mayor."
Back in the nineteen-seventies, Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Swainson, a former governor, was accused of having accepted a bribe. He was acquitted of that, but convicted of perjury.
There are plenty of people, including his biographer, Lawrence Glazer, who think Swainson was actually innocent of anything other than bad judgment and trying to be his own attorney.
But after the verdict, Swainson didn’t spend his life whining to the press about the injustice of it all.
The former governor, an authentic war hero who had his legs blown off in the Second World War, resigned from the court, lost his law license, did his time, and disappeared into obscurity.
Years later, he worked hard and diligently at rehabilitating himself, and became a highly respected head of the Michigan Historical Commission before he died in nineteen ninety-four.
I mention all this because I thought of him yesterday, when splashed across the papers were long stories about a self-justifying interview disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave on an AM radio station yesterday morning.
Kilpatrick, you may remember, just got out of prison for violating probation. He is facing a new trial on a vast array of corruption charges that could send him to federal prison for thirty years.
Nobody disputes that his lies cost his impoverished city nine million dollars, or that he still owes nearly a million in court-ordered restitution. Nevertheless, the press feel compelled to give him a forum to criticize the present mayor, an indisputably honest man.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released from prison, Steve Carmody reports. "Kilpatrick walked out of the prison in Jackson and hugged his lawyer. He then got into a SUV waiting for him and the vehicle drove away," Carmody reports from Jackson.
Kilpatrick served 14 months for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case. From the Associated Press:
The 41-year-old Kilpatrick is free on parole but still faces a federal corruption trial that could send him back to prison. He plans to re-join his family in Texas.
Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and resigned from office in 2008 after he lied at a civil trial to cover up an extramarital affair with his chief of staff. That lawsuit cost Detroit $8.4 million.
He was imprisoned in May 2010 for failing to disclose assets and surrender sufficient funds that could have reduced his $1 million restitution to Detroit.
Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered to pay one million dollars in restitution as part of his guilty plea to obstruction of justice charges while he was Detroit mayor. The same judge later determined that Kilpatrick was hiding his assets to avoid paying the restitution. He still owes more than 800 thousand dollars in restitution.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick faces federal charges that he ran the city’s water department like an organized crime syndicate. Now, one county served by the water department wants some of that money back. From the Detroit Free Press:
Macomb County wants $25.5 million from former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his former aide, his former contractor friend and former director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department saying they schemed to overcharge the county for a work on a collapsed sewer line in Sterling Heights.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will probably have to wait until the first week of August to be released from prison.
Kilpatrick’s release date was set to be no earlier than July 24th, but he wants to transfer his parole to Texas to be with his wife and children. This will require additional paperwork. Russ Marlan is spokesperson for Michigan Department of Corrections.
DETROIT (AP) - Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick takes responsibility in his upcoming book for an affair with an aide and lies told during a civil trial that sent him from leading one of America's largest cities to a prison cell. But he also blames others for his downfall.
The former politician bills "Surrendered! The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick" as his side of the tale. He claims in the book that when it was clear criminal charges tied to a sex scandal would not go away, his political allies and adversaries, some Detroit business leaders and an aggressive media formed an unspoken alliance. He says they worked to "get rid" of him.
The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the book. Its release date is Aug. 1.
The Michigan Parole Board has voted to release former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from prison.
Kilpatrick went to prison early last year for violating the terms of his probation. A judge found that the ex-mayor hid some of his assets that should have been used to pay a million-dollar restitution order.
The restitution was part of Kilpatrick’s 2008 guilty plea to obstructing justice. He admitted to lying about an affair with one of his aides during a civil trial after text messages revealed explicit details about the relationship.
Maurice Kelman ought to be feeling proud today, For years, the retired Wayne State law professor has been waging a lonely battle to get Michigan to enforce what weak campaign finance laws we have.
Specifically, he’s been focusing on the case of one Kwame Kilpatrick, who needs no introduction. Kelman discovered two years ago that the felonious ex-mayor used nearly a million dollars from his campaign fund to pay the lawyers who were trying to keep him out of prison during the text messaging scandal.
DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's secretary of state is seeking $976,000 from imprisoned ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for using re-election campaign funds to pay legal fees associated with a criminal case that saw him jailed in 2008.
A spokesman for Ruth Johnson says a civil complaint has been filed with her department. An administrative hearing is expected.
Kilpatrick was jailed after pleading guilty to misconduct and no contest to assault. The charges stemmed from a text-messaging sex scandal involving a former top aide.
The Bureau of Elections writes in the complaint that the charges arose from personal misconduct and that campaign funds shouldn't have been used for legal fees.
The Associated Press left messages Monday afternoon seeking comment from Kilpatrick lawyer James Thomas.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will go to court to make sure any book royalties earned by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick go first toward paying his restitution debt to the state.
A Kilpatrick autobiography is expected to be released next month. Kilpatrick is in prison for failing to make restitution payments while enjoying an affluent lifestyle in Texas.
"When someone’s in the slammer, someone’s violated the law, and you owe citizens of the state of Michigan money, restitution, before you rake in royalties on a book deal, we need to make sure you even it up with the taxpayers."
Schuette says he will work with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on a motion to tap any book royalties for restitution. Kilpatrick owes the city of Detroit more than $816,000.
A Kilpatrick spokesman did not return a phone call.
The Detroit Arab American and Muslim communities reacted last night as news of Osama bin Laden's death spread. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan are holding a press conference this morning at 9:30. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody is there and will have an update for us. Here's a statement from CAIR:
In a statement issued following President Obama's announcement of bin Laden's death, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said, "We welcome the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of our military personnel. In addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also welcome President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam."
Chrysler records its first profit since emerging from bankruptcy
The good economic news continues for U.S. automakers as Chrysler announced a first quarter profit. From the Detroit Free Press:
Chrysler said today it earned $116 million during the first three months of the year, giving the company its first profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, as well as details about its debt refinancing plans.
The profit compares to a $197-million loss for the same January-March period last year.
Collusion between bridge-owner Moroun and former Detroit Mayor?
A WikiLeak cable reveals the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation felt shut out of negotiations between former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. From the Windsor Star:
The former president of the company that manages the Windsor-Detroit tunnel complained to the U.S. embassy in Ottawa in 2005 about backroom dealings between Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, correspondence released by WikiLeaks this week shows.
In a cable he sent to the State Department on Nov. 10, 2005, David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, said Gordon Jarvis complained he had been "shut out of negotiations" as he tried to get the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation's lease arrangement renewed. Moroun had offered to pay $30 million to gain control of the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel for 100 years and the tunnel corporation was trying to make a counter offer.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will soon be moving to a state prison cell.
A federal judge today approved Kilpatrick's request to be transferred from a federal lockup in Milan, Michigan. The Associated Press reports Kilpatrick was transferred to a facility in Jackson after today's hearing.
He's locked up for violating probation in a criminal case that forced him out of city hall in 2008. Kilpatrick has been housed at Milan to be close to his Detroit-area attorneys as he prepares for trial on federal corruption charges.
But he needs to return to state prison in order to be considered for parole in July. Kilpatrick was in a good mood in court, even joking with TV reporters about the favorite newscast among inmates at Milan.
Prosecutors have dubbed the five men accused of pocketing millions of dollars in exchange for contracts with the city of Detroit the "Kilpatrick Enterprise."
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted in federal court today, along with Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.
One thing is for sure. If Michigan is going to get out of the hole it is in and lay the foundation for future prosperity, lots of us are going to have to move out of our economic and political comfort zones.
Unions are going to have to realize that employers and governments can’t afford the same kind of health care and defined-benefit pension plans as when we had full employment at high wages and the Big Three dominated the global automotive economy.
Chambers of Commerce are going to have to realize that there is more to attracting new jobs and business than low taxes.
And everybody is going to have to realize that without a modern, well-functioning infrastructure, we haven’t got a chance.
This week’s indictment against Detroit’s former mayor and others is likely to renew interest in changing the way the region’s massive water system is run. The federal government identified 13 scams in which water department contracts worth tens of millions of dollars were steered to a friend of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office released this statement regarding the RICO indictments of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Victor Mercado, former director of the city Water and Sewerage Department, and 3 others:
We are disappointed by continued revelations of the mistakes of the past. Yet, we will not be deterred from our agenda. We will continue to work hard to restructure city government to a level of accountability, transparency and performance for our citizens. We have the utmost confidence in U.S Attorney Barbara McQuade and her team, and will cooperate and not interfere with their investigation.
While these indictments will make it more difficult as we seek a new director for the water department, and continue to make the tough but necessary decisions throughout the city, we will maintain our commitment to the highest ethical standards and those who uphold them for the benefit of our city and region.
Kwame Kilpatrick and the others associated in the case are facing charges under the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). You can check the FBI's glossary of terms to see what activities can be charged under RICO. The law was enacted by Congress 40 years ago to prosecute the leaders of organized crime. Before RICO it was difficult to prosecute organized crime leaders who rarely got involved in day-to-day dirty deeds.
Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press has written up a nice little summary of RICO and how prosecutors have since used it to fight corruption in organized labor, drug gangs, and government officials. He writes:
Prosecutors must prove that there was a “criminal enterprise” at work; that the person being prosecuted conspired with others to commit a pattern of crimes, from violent acts to financial crimes such as bribery, money laundering, wire fraud or extortion.
Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Kilpatrick and those newly indicted today colluded in a pattern of crimes.
Here's some video of the release of the indictments from the Detroit News:
Update 4:28 p.m.:
Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, had this to say of the new indictment:
“The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices. Both his position as state representative, as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves, through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud.”
Update 4:18 p.m.:
Here's an excerpt of the indictment (info in parens added):
"(Former Detroit Mayor) Kwame Kilpatrick, (Kilpatrick’s long-time friend) Bobby Ferguson, (Kilpatrick’s father) Bernard Kilpatrick, (former director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) Victor Mercado and (Chief Administrative Officer then Chief Information Officer to Kilpatrick) Derrick Miller… extorted municipal contractors by coercing them to include Ferguson in public contracts, and/or by rigging the award of contracts to ensure Ferguson got a portion of the revenue from those contracts…. Ferguson got tens of millions of dollars in work and revenues from municipal contractors."
Update 3:39 p.m.:
Federal Prosecutors in Detroit are announcing more corruption charges against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The indictments also include Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.
Representatives from the FBI, IRS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development are also on hand for the announcement.
The new charges are a sign the years-long investigation into Detroit municipal corruption is approaching an apex.
Peter Henning is a Wayne State University law professor. He says this investigation has been typical of public corruption probes that slowly “work from the outside in.”
“The government’s committed a lot of resources. When that happens then it’s much more likely to see charges brought, simply because the government wants to see some return on its investment.”
Kwame Kilpatrick already faces federal tax evasion and other charges for allegedly using a non-profit civic fund as a personal slush fund.
Ferguson also already faces federal charges in an alleged city bid-rigging scheme.
The other shoe is finally dropping on former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The US Attorney in Detroit is holding a news conference at 4pm to announce indictments against Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and others allegedly involved in city hall corruption in Detroit.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is considering prosecuting the mayor under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, among other federal criminal laws, according to a source. The Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section reviews and approves each proposed federal prosecution under the RICO statute.
So far, 14 people have pleaded guilty to felonies and one person has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the Detroit investigation and a spinoff probe in the city of Southfield. Those convicted include former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers.