DETROIT (WWJ) – He may not get out of jail earlier, but former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick may get a break on his bill to Uncle Sam.

As part of his jail sentence, Kilpatrick was ordered to re-pay over $4.5 million to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. But an appeals court says the restitution should be based on the water department’s loss, not Kilpatrick’s gain — about a third of what he was ordered to pay back.

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“The former mayor got a $3 million break from the government,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton. “The restitution was improperly calculated and now, the government is saying Kilpatrick should only have to pay $1.6 million.”

The whole thing stems from a water contract that Kilpatrick awarded to convicted co-defendant Bobby Ferguson. Kilpatrick’s attorney wanted no restitution at all.

“The specific (restitution) number will be decided by a judge in the future,” said Langton.

Once a popular young politician, Kilpatrick in 2013 was ordered to 28 years behind bars on his convictions for racketeering, bribery, extortion and tax crimes.

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“I think everyone here understands Mr. Kilpatrick was convicted of running a criminal enterprise,” Judge Nancy Edmunds said during his sentencing, adding the enterprise started while he was still in the state House of Representatives and continued through all six years he was in the mayor’s office. Edmunds said the scheme to steer contracts to Kilpatrick’s pal Ferguson made projects more costly for a city that couldn’t afford it and drove contractors out of business.

Kilpatrick spoke eloquently in his own defense immediately before the sentence was handed down, giving a lengthy talk full of apologies and self-reflection in a subdued voice that riveted the packed courtroom and overflow room.

“I just humbly and respectfully ask for a fair sentence … I respect the jury’s verdict. I think your honor knows I have disagreed in terms of the specific things I was found guilty on, but I respect the verdict and I also respect the American justice system,” he said.

That attitude changed dramatically this summer – while he played contrite in court, a seemingly unrepentant Kilpatrick took to Facebook in July to rant against the conspiracy he blames for his incarceration and lash out at the “wicked and evil” justice system.

“(The feds) worked diligently with the Local Media, State Authorities, Prosecutor Worthy, and Detroit Police to fabricate and plant news stories about Money, Strippers, Trips, Vacations, Partying, and the like, in order to further drive a wedge of mistrust amongst the electorate and citizens of Detroit and Kwame Kilpatrick,” he wrote.

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It’s not known how much restitution, if any, Kilpatrick has paid so far in the case.