Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should get no more than 15 years in prison on corruption charges, his attorney said in a sentencing filing Sunday.
U.S. prosecutors have recommended Kilpatrick receive at least 28-year prison term when he is sentenced Thursday before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, but attorney Harold Gurewitz is asking the court to consider the current circumstances of the former mayor: He is “infamous, destitute, and disgraced.”
Gurewitz argued in the filing for the court to consider Kilpatrick’s conduct in the scope of his entire life, not just his misdeeds in office.
“The historic onslaught of media criticism focused on Kwame Kilpatrick as a political figure for over almost a decade has mostly ignored his life as a son, husband, father, and friend,” Gurewitz said. “It has also obscured his substantial accomplishments as an elected politician, first as a state legislator for over three years and subsequently as Mayor of the City of Detroit for over eight years.”
The Detroit City Hall public corruption trial netted guilty verdicts in March for Kilpatrick and friend Bobby Ferguson, on charges related to running a criminal enterprise and dipping into the city treasury to fund lifestyles that included hand-made suits, private jet travel and luxury resort stays.
Prosecutors have asked for up to 28 years in prison for Ferguson when he is sentenced Thursday because of his role, they say, in putting a stranglehold on public construction contracts in Detroit and teaming with the mayor “in a criminal partnership of enormous proportions.” The $73.8 million in extorted deals given to Ferguson during the mayor’s reign generated more than $9.6 million in estimated profit for the criminal enterprise, prosecutors say.
Gurewitz also called the desire to blame Kilpatrick for Detroit’s bankruptcy filing misguided.
“While blaming Kilpatrick for Detroit’s current status feeds the prejudices of uninformed bloggers and online opinion polls, it is a cheap shot to argue that the losses occasioned in this case led to Detroit’s filing for bankruptcy,” he said.
Gurewitz cited media scrutiny, such as the “urban legend” of a wild party at Manoogian Mansion in 2002 as evidence that the “spotlight has shone unfairly” on Kilpatrick and his family.
“For almost the past 10 years, Mr. Kilpatrick and his family have lived under a cloud of media scrutiny, skepticism, and a torrent of derogatory criticism,” Gurewitz said. “Every aspect of his political and his family’s personal lives have been scrutinized.”
Kilpatrick’s political contributions during his time as mayor were mentioned in the document, including improved maintenance of parks, resources allocated for law enforcement and the development of Campus Martius and the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
The government-recommended sentences could exceed the longest public corruption sentence in recent years. They are being held without bond at a federal prison in Milan.
In 2012, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Two years ago, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years.
Detroit News Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed.