Kilpatrick’s dad completes prison sentence

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's father was released Friday from a 15-month prison sentence for committing a tax crime during his son’s corrupt reign, according to federal prison officials and his defense lawyer.

Bernard Kilpatrick, 73, must serve one year of supervised release and pay $62,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

The move Friday comes four months after he was released from a Texas federal prison into a halfway house. He transitioned into home confinement in December and is living in Texas, where Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife and three children relocated following the text-message scandal.

A onetime chief of staff for former Wayne County Executive Edward McNamara, Bernard Kilpatrick was accused of creating a consulting business, Maestro Associates, that cashed in on his son's administration. Trial evidence showed he met regularly with his son and others and numerous city vendors paid him more than $1 million between 2002 and 2007.

Bernard Kilpatrick was sentenced in October 2013 to 15 months in prison on the tax charge after jurors in the City Hall corruption case failed to reach a consensus about whether he had participated in a racketeering conspiracy headed by his son.

His son is serving a 28-year prison sentence in an Oklahoma federal prison. Contractor Bobby Ferguson is in a South Carolina prison serving a 21-year sentence.

Bernard Kilpatrick conspired with his son and Ferguson to exploit city contracts and persuaded contractors to pay him for access to the former mayor, pocketing $1.3 million for mostly no-show work, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. He also deposited more than $605,000 in the bank during his son’s reign even though he had no other source of income and was a bad gambler, prosecutors said.

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said Bernard Kilpatrick took money and did no work for contractors who were strong-armed by his son.

Bernard Kilpatrick also was featured in one of the corruption trial’s most dramatic moments. He was shown on a hidden FBI video pocketing $2,500 from a sludge-hauling contractor who allegedly was paying bribes to win a $1.2 billion city deal. Prosecutors called it a bribe; Bernard Kilpatrick’s attorney called it payment on an old debt.

As part of his sentence, Edmunds also ordered him to repay $62,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Bernard Kilpatrick told the judge he regretted filing the false tax return but admitted no other wrongdoing.

“My life was turned upside down,” he said. “I brought misery to my family and my friends … this experience really has humbled me.

“Bottom line: I messed up, no question about it.”

Edmunds said during the sentencing hearing he was lucky to have escaped convictions on racketeering and other charges.

“This defendant was involved in many of the ongoing acts of extortion that plagued his son’s administration,” Edmunds said. “I believe the evidence established Bernard Kilpatrick was paid because he was the mayor’s father. Those who did, did so to secure contracts with the city or because Kwame Kilpatrick told them they needed to do so, not because of any value Bernard Kilpatrick or his company offered.

“Although would have enjoyed a handsome profit…he rarely if ever performed work in exchange for the payments,” she added. “He was fortunate to have escaped conviction on racketeering and other tax charges. He used his son’s position to make money for himself.”

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