The U.S. Attorney in Detroit Wednesday unloaded a laundry list of federal charges against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father and three other city officials in an indictment the FBI says has been a long time coming.
“I think that these charges will bring forth and show to the citizens of this area the abuse of power by certain individuals, and certainly shed light on some of the activity that has been going on here for far too long,” Detroit FBI Agent in Charge Andrew Arena said.
The 38-count indictment alleges corruption regarding city contracts totaling at least $100 million, involving racketeering conspiracy, extortion, fraud and bribery.
In addition to Kwame Kilpatrick and Bernard Kilpatrick, named in the indictment are Kilpatrick’s good friend and city contractor, Bobby Ferguson;Victor Mercado, former head of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department; and Derrick Miller who is a former chief administrative officer for the city of Detroit.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said the accused turned the mayor’s office into a criminal enterprise.
Listen: McQuade announces the charges
“The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices — both his position as State Representative as well as his position as Mayor of Detroit — to unjustly enrich themselves to a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud,” McQuade said.
“The indictment also charges Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson of defrauding donors to non-profit organizations, including the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.”
“They would ask donors to provide money to these funds, and instead of enriching the lives of Senior Citizens or children or residents of the city of Detroit — instead, using the funds for their personal benefit for expenses like yoga classes, spa treatments, golf clubs,” she said.
“Many people in the Kwame Kilpatrick administration, including Kwame Kilpatrick, are already dealing with the Feds on other charges,” said WWJ and Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton.
“This is going to be very, very serious. And, if they are convicted of these when they have other charges pending or previous convictions, the guidelines for sentencing will put these people in prison for years and years to come,” he said.
Jim Thomas, Attorney for Kwame Kilpatrick spoke to WWJ about these latest charges.
“First and foremost — and I don’t want you to forget this premise — that is, he is presumed to be innocent, at this point in time, of all the charges that are against him. How I defend is something that will evolve once we have a chance to look at the charges and to absorb what the discovery materials are,” Thomas said.
“To a great extent they’re relying on peoples’ testimony. We have to take a look and see what they said in the documents. And, I’m sure we’ll have plenty to say about the witnesses and what it is that they said, and to point out any incosistacies that we can find,” he said.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s attorney, John Shea said his client will be entering a not guilty plea when the time comes.
Speaking live on WWJ, criminal defense attorney Ray Cassar said he expects the witness list in this case to be huge.
“My guess is there’s going to be hundreds of witnesses that have come forward that are going to be able to testify that, in fact, they paid money as bribes in order to get work in the city of Detroit,” Cassar said.
Cassar said these indictments were clearly a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“I think the U.S. Attorney took a great deal of time in putting together this lengthy, multi-page indictment, and I think the city of Detroit is going to be better off for it,” he said.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 for continuing coverage.