Believe it or not, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is in hot water—again. Last week Detroit Free Press reported that the disgraced and currently imprisoned political figure, along with his father Bernard Kilpatrick, city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former top aide Derrick Miller and former water department chief Victor Mercado, were indicted on 38 counts of racketeering. If found guilty, the quartet could face anywhere from three to 30 years in prison. Kilpatrick is already serving a year-and-a-half to five years in federal prison for violating probation stemming from a previous charge. This just adds to a long list of scandals involving Kilpatrick, who was elected in 2001 at the age of 32, becoming the youngest Mayor of Detroit. BlackEnterprise.com takes a look back at some of the countless examples of corruption that led to Kwame Kilpatrick’s fall from grace. —Anslem Samuel
SEPTEMBER 2002: Just nine months into his first term, Kilpatrick found himself embroiled in controversy as rumors of a raucous party involving strippers taking place at the city-owned Manoogian Mansion surfaced. Allegedly, his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, (pictured above, left) came home to discover her husband with a stripper and assaulted the woman.
APRIL 30, 2003: Tamara “Strawberry” Greene, (pictured, right) one of the strippers at the rumored party at the Manoogian Mansion, is murdered in what some view as an apparent hit. Nine days later, Kilpatrick fires Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown, who was supposed to head up the investigation looking into the Manoogian Mansion party.
MAY 2005: In the midst of campaigning for a second term, Kilpatrick was accused of impropriety as reports surfaced about his possible abuse of city funds. The Detroit Free Press reported that over the course of the first 33 months of his initial term, the Mayor charged over $210,000 on his city-issued credit card for travel, pricy meals, and entertainment, including leasing a car for his family, spa massages, expensive wines and other questionable charges.
JANUARY 2006: Kilpatrick was stripped of his special administrator role, which put him in charge of the Detroit Water Department due to severe pollution issues. This came after serious questions about water department contracts came to light in late 2005. According to the Detroit News, Kilpatrick used his special administrator authority to bypass the water board and City Council on three controversial contracts.
FEBRUARY 2006: Kilpatrick accepted partial blame for turning in Detroit’s 2005-2006 audit reports late, costing the city to lose more than half of its state funding for the year. Despite being in charge, the Mayor placed culpability for the delinquent paperwork on the firm he hired to replace the accountants he had laid off earlier.
AUGUST 20 – SEPTEMBER 11, 2007: The Whistleblower trial, which stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed against Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit by ex bodyguard Harold Nelthrope and former Deputy Police Chief Brown, began. Both men claimed they were wrongfully terminated for looking into questionable actions by the Mayor. During the trial rumors of a romantic relationship between Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, (pictured, right) surfaced but both Kilpatrick and Beatty denied the charges under oath. On September 11th the city settled the case, resulting in Brown and Nelthrope receiving $6.5 million plus interest.
JANUARY 2008: The Detroit Free Press revealed the existence of thousands of questionable text message exchanges between Kilpatrick and his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty on their city-issued Skytel pagers between September/October 2002 and April/May 2003. The message transcripts revealed that Kilpatrick and Beatty, (pictured, left) both married at the time, seemingly were engaged in a sexual relationship. Furthermore, there was evidence that they used city funds to arrange romantic getaways and they conspired to fire Detroit Police Deputy Chief Brown because they were fearful he would discover their affair during his investigation into the Manoogian Mansion party.
JULY 24, 2008: Detective Brian White and Joanne Kinney, an investigator from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office, attempted to serve Bobby Ferguson with a subpoena while he was at the home of Kilpatrick’s sister, Ayanna. Kilpatrick was there at the time and, along with his bodyguards, stopped the officers from entering the residence, which led to Kilpatrick allegedly pushing one of the sheriff’s deputies. Kilpatrick later pled no contest to one felony count of assaulting and obstructing a police officer in exchange for a second assault charge being dropped. As part of the deal, he also agreed to resign from office and serve 120 days in jail.
AUGUST 7, 2008:Kilpatrick was remanded to spend a night in jail, following a bail violation. Reportedly, on July 23, the Mayor traveled to Windsor, Ontario for a meeting without obtaining the court’s permission to leave the state and country. Kilpatrick was released the next day after posting a $50,000 cash bond and agreeing to wear a tethering device and no longer traveling outside of city limits.
OCTOBER 28, 2008: Officially resigning as Mayor of Detroit on September 17, Kilpatrick received a sentence of four months as part of his plea deal in the text scandal. The disgraced Mayor was released 99 days later on February 3, 2009, boarding a privately chartered Lear jet headed to Dallas, TX. A few weeks later it was announced that Kilpatrick had secured a position with Covisint, a Texas subsidiary of Compuware, which has headquarters in Detroit. Compuware CEO Peter Karmanos, Jr. had a history of loaning large sums of money to Kilpatrick in late 2008.
JUNE 23, 2010: Already incarcerated, Kilpatrick was indicted on 19 federal counts, including 10 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, five counts of filing a false tax return, and one count of tax evasion. Each count of fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000. Similarly, each tax count carries a maximum sentence of three to five years and a fine of $250,000.
DECEMBER 15, 2010: A federal grand jury announced a 38-count indictment that included Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, (pictured, background) city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former top Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller and former water department chief Victor Mercado. The 89-page indictment detailed 100s of thousands of dollars in under the table kickbacks, falsified tax forms, 13 instances of attempted or actual extortion and contract rigging, and numerous other charges, leading to one of the largest public corruption investigations ever in the City of Detroit.