Sunday, December 17, 2017

Corruption trial opens for former Detroit mayor

DETROIT — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick conspired with his father and best friend to turn City Hall into a den of bribes and kickbacks, a prosecutor said Friday as jurors heard opening statements in Kilpatrick's corruption trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow gave jurors a 40-minute overview of what they'll see and hear in the months ahead. He said Kilpatrick, 42, was an enthusiastic rising star in Michigan politics who moved from the state Legislature, then enriched himself with hundreds of thousands of dollars by muscling contractors, fooling political supporters and rigging city business.

"This was not politics as usual," Chutkow said. "This was extortion, bribery, fraud."

Kilpatrick — who quit office in 2008 in an unrelated scandal and eventually served more than a year in prison for a probation violation — is charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion, bribery, fraud, false tax returns and tax evasion. His father, Bernard, also is on trial, along with the ex-mayor's best friend, Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit water boss Victor Mercado.

Defense attorney James Thomas called the government's case a "scam."

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