Kwame Kilpatrick is asking a federal judge to expunge $1.5 million in restitution Kilpatrick has been ordered to pay the city of Detroit. This could be a fool’s errand.
“There is NO LOSS TO THE CITY OF DETROIT IN THIS CASE WHATSOEVER!” Kilpatrick wrote to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Kilpatrick, who is serving a 28-year prison term for corruption when he was mayor of Detroit, wants Edmonds to allow him to travel from Oklahoma back to Detroit so he can argue his case in person.
Here is how The Detroit Free Press explains it:
Kilpatrick, through his attorney Harold Gurewitz, argues that he is being punished for a crime he claims he didn’t commit: bid rigging. Specifically, Gurewitz argues that Kilpatrick’s restitution tab is based on a contract that prosecutors claim was infected by bid-rigging, when the jury “was not required to make any determination that the alleged-bid rigging occurred.”
Kilpatrick is hoping a judge will let him off the hook for the $1.5 million, but given the seriousness of the charges his plea may be a longshot: Kilpatrick, 47, was convicted in 2013 on 24 counts for crimes including fraud, bribery, extortion and racketeering.
He will be eligible to be released from prison in 2037 and Kilpatrick will be 67 years old. Maybe Kilpatrick is looking ahead and trying to prevent paying the $1.5 million once he becomes a free man. And here’s a fact the court is perhaps overlooking: Kilpatrick probably doesn’t have the money. So is the court order simply a symbolic gesture?
I interviewed Kilpatrick in 2010 following his 99-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to felony perjury charges, which resulted from an affair with Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff. The affair was revealed after prosecutors obtained 14,000 text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty.
Elected as the youngest mayor in Detroit’s history, Kilpatrick told me that he had been spiritually transformed and that he was accepting his punishment, he wanted to learn from his mistakes, and do right by the city of Detroit.
“Lord knows I don’t ever want to go back [to jail], but it was not all negative, and I need to say that,” Kilpatrick said in a one-hour interview from his residence in Dallas in 2010. “God had me right where he wanted me.”
Kilpatrick told me that he had searched his soul. He said that he prayed on his knees most nights, had found the Lord and claimed to be a better man since spending three months behind bars.
In the interview, Kilpatrick admitted that he lied to his family, cheated on his wife and ignored his children, but with the help of Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas, Kilpatrick said at the time that he was walking on solid spiritual ground.
“I don’t think my punishment was just about lying about an affair,” Kilpatrick said in a moment of reflection. “I think my punishment was turning my back on God who sent me to that position as mayor.”
“I understand what my position as mayor meant to our community, and I know my reckless behavior disappointed people and, quite honestly, ripped apart a lot of people. My family and people’s hopes were ripped apart,” Kilpatrick said. “I want people to know how sorry I am for letting them down.”
Kilpatrick was 31 years old when he was elected mayor of Detroit, an energized “hip-hop” leader and the son of influential former congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
“I was out there on a snow plow; if there was a shooting, I was there,” Kilpatrick said. “Nobody had ever done that before, but I missed my kids’ games, dinners at home, anniversaries with my wife. Nothing mattered except doing my job for the city of Detroit, and in doing that job, I failed.”
I don’t know what Kilpatrick is thinking today because he has granted few media interviews – if any – since my conversation with him seven years ago.
I only know that Kilpatrick is reneging on his obligation to pay the $1.5 million in restitution a judge says he owes so I’m left to wonder if Kilpatrick is failing Detroit again.