DETROIT (AP/WWJ) – A high school pal whose testimony helped convict former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of corruption was sentenced Thursday to a year in a halfway house, a major break as a reward for his vital cooperation.
Derrick Miller’s sentence ends the case of the “Kilpatrick Enterprise,” as prosecutors called it, years of pay-to-play corruption while Detroit was careening toward bankruptcy.
Miller went to high school with Kilpatrick and was his right-hand man, first in the Legislature and then at city hall following the 2001 election. But they went separate ways when both were charged with crimes.
Miller pleaded guilty in 2011 to accepting $115,000 from a real estate broker in connection with the lease or sale of city properties. He also accepted $10,000 from a contractor at Cobo Center, a convention hall, and passed money to Kilpatrick in a restaurant bathroom.
Miller described it all during five days of extraordinary testimony at Kilpatrick’s trial. The ex-mayor, who was best man at Miller’s wedding, is serving a 28-year prison sentence. He resigned in 2008.
“It is fair to say your testimony, more than any other factor, brought the case together for the jury to see what was going on, how it was going on and why,” said U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, who praised Miller for “tremendous courage.”
Miller did not apologize at sentencing but did say that he has owned up to and taken responsibility for his actions.
Miller said he appreciated the “love and forgiveness” of friends, family and Detroit residents.
Prosecutors agreed that Miller deserved a break, but they still had requested a 40-month prison sentence.
“Public officials should take note that early and extraordinary cooperation will yield a substantially lower sentence,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said after the hearing.
Byron Pitts, attorney for Miller, said his client came forward unlike others and tried to rectify and heal the city.
“Mr. Miller’s done everything he promised he would do and that’s all we have to say,” said Pitts.
“We accept what the court gave us today graciously – he’s going to move on like a man with his life, he owned up to his involvement and he’s on to the next … phase of his life.”
Miller will also have to pay restitution but that amount has not been determined.
This latest comes just over a week since Victor Mercado, who served as water department chief under Kilpatrick, received a sentence of eight months in a halfway house for his role in the case. Mercado pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge in 2012 while on trial with Kilpatrick and others.
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