Detroit— Kwame Kilpatrick likely will spend the next 28 years in prison alongside mobsters and drug kingpins — and not necessarily in his adopted state of Texas, legal experts said.
Kilpatrick was officially listed as an inmate at the federal prison in Milan but is expected to eventually be transferred to a federal prison outside of Michigan.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said she would recommend that Kilpatrick be incarcerated at one of a dozen federal prisons in Texas but a final decision is outside of her control, legal experts said. Kilpatrick’s three children and wife moved to Texas after he resigned as mayor in 2008.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons will decide based on his security level and available bed space.
Legal experts and former federal inmates shed light on the fate awaiting Kilpatrick behind bars and said his crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, and lengthy sentence means he likely won’t be incarcerated in a low-security prison or country-club type setting.
Kilpatrick, 43, could have a rough time in prison despite his size — 6 feet 5 and about 250 pounds — because of his high profile and frequent problems following orders, including repeated parole violations.
“It’ll be an interesting situation. He’s a physically imposing guy but I can assure you, there will be more physically imposing people in the federal prisons,” said Keith Corbett, former chief of the U.S. Attorney's Organized Crime Strike Force in Detroit. “If he keeps his head down and doesn’t create any problems, I don’t think his life inside will be excessively harsh.
“Otherwise, (prison staff) will crack down on him pretty harsh.”
For example, Vito "Billy Jack" Giacalone, one of Metro Detroit’s most notorious organized crime figures and a suspect in the unsolved disappearance of ex-Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, occasionally ran into trouble in prison, Corbett said.
Giacalone, who died last year, had an artificial leg.
“When he violated the rules,” Corbett said, “they’d take his leg away.”
Kilpatrick could shave about 54 days a year off his sentence — or more than four years over the course of a 28-year sentence — if he behaves himself while in prison.
“He will be in prison with large-scale narcotics offenders and mobsters,” Corbett said. “Because that’s the kind of offense you’re talking about: racketeering.”
Kilpatrick also could be barred from seeing his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, who was convicted of a single tax charge in the corruption case. He will be sentenced Oct. 17 and faces up to two years in federal prison.