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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday lauded Kwame Kilpatrick saying the former mayor is "enormously talented" and hoping "he gets a chance" to contribute to the community. 

But Duggan stopped short of supporting an effort by Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Detroit Democrat who announced Thursday she plans to deliver a letter to President Donald Trump from Detroit leaders seeking clemency for Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick, now 49, is serving a 28-year prison sentence after his conviction in 2013 on two dozen counts of using his positions as mayor and state representative to carry out a decade-long criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Clemency would reduce the sentence.

"I have a hard time being objective," Duggan said to reporters after a press conference at a Detroit housing nonprofit. "I have known Kwame since he was in high school and was a big part of supporting everything he did in his career.

"He is an enormously talented person, and I think that talent could do a lot of good in the community. It’s not my place to tell the president what to do, and it wouldn’t be helpful if I did. But I think Kwame Kilpatrick still has a lot to contribute, and I hope he gets a chance.

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Pressed on whether he thought Trump should grant him clemency, the two-term mayor said, "I am not going to be helpful with the president, so I want to be careful what I say."

"I don’t want to get in the way of anything."

Kilpatrick's father Bernard Kilpatrick was chief of staff for former Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara. Duggan was McNamara's deputy and is a former county prosecutor. 

Bernard Kilpatrick was sentenced to federal prison for 15 months and was released in 2014 to a halfway house and subsequently to home confinement to serve out the remainder of his sentence.  He was convicted of committing a tax crime that U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said consisted of taking money and doing no work for contractors who were strong-armed by his son.

cmacdonald@detroitnews.com

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