Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be sentenced on Thursday for 24 corruption convictions. As he heads to federal prison for what could be decades, the Detroit Free Press asks how much did his extortion, kickback and bribery rackets contribute to the city's financial crisis and its filing for the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation's history? Federal prosecutors said his “corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis.” (The prosecution is seeking a 28-year term; the defense is arguing for 15.)
The cost of Kilpatrick's ring of corruption is staggering. It includes an $8.4-million settlement by the city in a 2007 police whistle-blower trial, another $9.6 million in illegal profits pocketed over the years through crooked water and sewer contracts, and a $500,000 state grant that was meant for kids and seniors instead went to a Kilpatrick contractor friend Kilpatrick's wife. The cost to taxpayers for prosecuting him and providing him with a public defender won't be known until his appeals are exhausted. More difficult to quantify is the nonmonetary cost of corruption: the betrayal of the public's trust.