President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in one of his final acts, 16 years before Kilpatrick was to be released from prison, according to the White House early Wednesday morning.
Kilpatrick was about seven years into his sentence for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while in public office.
“President Trump commuted the sentence of the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick. This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community,” the White House said in a statement.
“… Mr. Kilpatrick has served approximately 7 years in prison for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while he held public office. During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”
The move comes amid pardons to 73 people and 69 other commutations, the White House said.
Kilpatrick, 50, was sentenced in 2013 on two dozen counts of using his positions as mayor and state representative to carry out a decade-long criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. The 28-year sentence tied Ohio county politician Jimmy Dimora for the longest federal prison sentence for a corrupt public official in U.S. history.
The move ends speculation about whether Kilpatrick would be released early due to health problems and COVID-19, and amid a push from supporters, including businessman Peter Karmanos, who lobbied Trump, arguing Kilpatrick did nothing wrong or was unfairly punished.
In May, the Ebony Foundation, a national nonprofit pushing for his release for months, sent out a press release touting Kilpatrick’s expected release. The announcement was backed by state Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, who said she spoke with President Donald Trump about Kilpatrick’s release while the president was in Michigan and confirmed it herself with the White House.
Whitsett joined Trump at the White House last year for a meeting of COVID-19 survivors. Whitsett has praised the Republican president for having advocated for the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which she was prescribed after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Reports in May indicated Kilpatrick, if released, would move in with his mother near Atlanta, Georgia. She bought a new $336,848 home 39 miles south of Atlanta in June 2019.
Kilpatrick has been incarcerated at a low-security prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, where his release date had been listed as Jan. 18, 2037.
Whenever Kilpatrick leaves prison, the former mayor will face massive financial problems.
He owes approximately $11.2 million to the city, Internal Revenue Service and others, including businessman Dan Gilbert.
Collecting will be difficult, if not impossible.
Kilpatrick said he was broke before being convicted of racketeering conspiracy in 2013. In 2018, he said he had 96 cents in his prison commissary account.
Source: Detroit News