DETROIT — A former Detroit mayor was sent to federal prison for nearly three decades Thursday, offering little remorse for the widespread corruption under his watch but acknowledging he let down the financially troubled city during a critical period before it landed in bankruptcy.
Prosecutors argued that Kwame Kilpatrick's "corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis" that Detroit is now in. A judge agreed with the government's recommendation that 28 years in prison was appropriate for rigging contracts, taking bribes and putting his own price on public business.
It is one of the toughest penalties doled out for public corruption in recent U.S. history and seals a dramatic fall for Kilpatrick, who was elected mayor in 2001 at age 31 and is the son of a former senior member of Congress.
While Detroit's finances were eroding, he was getting bags of cash from city contractors, kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser and private cross-country travel from businessmen, according to trial evidence.
Kilpatrick, 43, said he was sorry if he let down his hometown but denied ever stealing from the citizens of Detroit.
"I'm ready to go so the city can move on," Kilpatrick said, speaking softly with a few pages of notes before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ordered the sentence.
Kilpatrick quit office in 2008 in a different scandal. Sexually explicit text messages revealed he had lied during a trial to cover up an affair with his top aide, Christine Beatty, and to hide the reasons for demoting or firing police officers who suspected wrongdoing at city hall.