Jury reaches verdict in ex-Detroit mayor's corruption trial

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 11, 2013 9:26 AM
Jury reaches verdict in ex-Detroit mayor's corruption trial

DETROIT (Reuters) - Jurors reached a verdict on Monday in the trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and two others charged with racketeering conspiracy following the biggest federal probe of public corruption in the city in decades.

A court spokesman said that the verdict was due to be read in U.S. District Court at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The jury began deliberating on February 19 in the trial that started last September before Judge Nancy Edmunds.

Prosecutors had accused Kilpatrick, his father and a city contractor of widespread corruption, extorting bribes from contractors who wanted to get or keep city contracts, turning the city's mayor's office into "Kilpatrick Incorporated."

Lawyers for the three defendants said the government's case was built on weak evidence and witnesses who lied to curry favor with prosecutors in their own public corruption cases. None of the defendants testified.

For many people in Detroit, the Kilpatricks contributed to the decline of the home of the U.S. automotive industry, which will soon be under the control of a Michigan state-appointed financial emergency manager.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and friend and city contractor Bobby Ferguson faced multiple charges each, including racketeering conspiracy and extortion, which carry prison sentences of up to 20 years.

Kilpatrick, 42, was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party when he was elected Detroit mayor at age 31 in 2001, but his tenure was marked by accusations of cronyism, nepotism and lavish spending. He resigned from office in 2008.

(Reporting by Steve Neavling, Bernie Woodall and David Ashenfelter; Editing by David Bailey and Grant McCool)