Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced former mayor of Detroit, was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for corruption following a series of scandals that showed he had unchecked power while in office.
Kilpatrick’s defense attorneys originally had argued that federal prosecutors were overreaching when they recommended he get 28 years – but Judge Nancy Edmunds handed down every minute of it.
"It was a tough sentence but it was a very large crime (and) the punishment met the crime," said U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow.
Kilpatrick addressed the court before his sentencing, saying, "I'm incredibly remorseful." But he stopped short of admitting guilt.
"I respect the jury's verdict,” he said. “I think your honor knows I disagree with it."
This was a different Kilpatrick. Gone were the flamboyant suits, the earring and the demeanor of the politician once described as the “hip hop mayor.”
He wore prison clothes and spent a great deal of time with his eyes trained at the floor.
"I believe he was broken. I believe he is very sorry," said Norman Yatooma, an attorney who investigated the suspicious death of Tamara Green, a woman tangled in the wild stories around Kilpatrick. "Sorry because he got caught."
As for the former mayor’s purported contrition, Shawn McKinney, an alternate juror at the trial, said simply, "I don't believe it."
His pre-sentence statement stood in contrast to his lifestyle in office.
Kilpatrick spent $800,000 more than he earned. He billed his city credit card for trips to Las Vegas, and bought concert tickets and football tickets along with an $850.00 steak dinner. He leased two Lincoln Navigators for his wife with public money.
"Managing a city with no money is hard every single day," Kilpatrick told the court. "I can't stand here and say I didn't work my butt off. I did every single day."
Kilpatrick did not help the impending financial crush of Detroit. Federal prosecutors wrote in a 51-page, pre-sentence filing that the city "desperately needed resolute leadership. Instead it got a mayor looking to cash in his office through graft, extortion and self dealing."
As sentences continue to get stiffer for convicted politicians, federal prosecutors in Detroit clearly intended to send a message.
"I truly hope that every public official who is out there in this district and even having the slightest inkling of crossing the line and betraying the public trust, that they pay close attention as to what went on in that courtroom today," said federal prosecutor Michael Bullota.
On top of the 28-year sentence, Kilpatrick will need to pay restitution. The amount will be determined at a hearing not yet scheduled and it will be based on any assets Kilpatrick has left.