Detroit Free Press file photo of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
DETROIT (Det. Free Press) -- A jury concluded Monday that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ran a criminal enterprise - complete with extortion, bribes and kickbacks - while he was the mayor of Michigan's largest city, and a federal judge ordered him to be put behind bars immediately.
The panel convicted him and contractor friend Bobby Ferguson of running a racket out of the mayor's office for years to enrich themselves, and the judge said they both will be detained while awaiting sentencing. In some cases, longtime friends testified they handed cash to Kilpatrick in envelopes.
Kilpatrick was convicted on 24 of 30 counts, including five counts of extortion, racketeering, bribery and several mail, wire and tax fraud charges during a five-month trial in which he was portrayed as an unscrupulous politician who took bribes, rigged contracts and lived far beyond his means while in office. On three counts he was found not guilty, and on another three the jury deadlocked.
The convictions ensure a return to prison long term for a Democrat once among the nation's youngest big-city leaders until he resigned in fall 2008. Each defendant could spend up to 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set yet.
Kilpatrick's contractor buddy, Bobby Ferguson, was found guilty on nine of 11 counts, including racketeering and several counts of extortion. He was found not guilty on one count and no verdict was reached on another.
The ex-mayor's father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was convicted on one count of filing a false tax return, but jurors acquitted him attempted extortion and another tax charge and deadlocked a racketeering charge. He will remain free on bond until his sentencing.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said the jury reached unanimous agreement Friday on 40 of the 45 counts but wanted a chance to reflect further over the weekend.
Interviewed after the verdict was announced, jurors said they took each charge seriously and "strictly looked at the evidence," as one juror said.
There was "passion ... to see that the right thing was done," Juror No. 8 said.
Witnesses told of Kwame Kilpatrick's lavish lifestyle - complete with luxury vacations, custom-made suits and golf outings - despite being at the helm of a city so broke it was on the verge of a state-appointed emergency financial manager to right its finances.
Internal Revenue Service agents said Kwame Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his mayoral salary.
The verdict is another defeat for the man who left office in 2008 amid an unrelated scandal involving sexually explicit text messages and an affair with an aide.
Kwame Kilpatrick shook his head at times as Monday's verdicts were read and appeared stunned.
Business owners said they were forced to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor or risk losing city contracts. Separately, fundraiser Emma Bell said she gave Kwame Kilpatrick more than $200,000 as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings. A high-ranking aide, Derrick Miller, told jurors that he often was the middle man, passing bribes from others.
The most serious charges, including racketeering and mail fraud, carry maximum 20-year prison sentences. Other crimes in the indictment, such as bribery and extortion, each carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The Kilpatricks also faced tax charges, which carry three-year maximum prison sentences.
Coming out of the courthouse Monday morning, Bernard Kilpatrick was asked whether he believes the jury got it wrong.
"Absolutely," he said.
Kwame Kilpatrick would not comment.
"God is good," Ferguson said when asked for his reaction.
The five-month trial included 80 government witnesses, scores of financial documents, text messages and secret audio and video recordings.
The Kilpatricks were accused of shaking down contractors and rigging bids to help steer lucrative contracts to Ferguson. Prosecutors said the philosophy of the enterprise was simple: If you wanted work in the city of Detroit, you either had to hire Ferguson, or in some cases, hire the mayor's father as a consultant.
The jury also heard plenty about Kwame Kilpatrick's lavish lifestyle and his nonprofit Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which the government said the then-mayor used as a personal piggy bank. The fund was meant for voter education and youth, but Kwame Kilpatrick used it for everything from yoga lessons and vacation getaways to college tuition for his relatives and spy equipment, prosecutors said.
Several businessmen also testified that they lavished Kwame Kilpatrick with vacations, custom-made suits and jewelry because they wanted to keep him happy, and they needed help with city deals.
All three men had denied the charges vigorously, saying they never demanded anything of anyone and were committed to helping minority businesses grow.
When the trial started last fall, it included a fourth defendant, former city water director Victor Mercado. But during the trial, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and awaits sentencing.
Kwame Kilpatrick, who now lives near Dallas, declined to testify. Defense lawyer James Thomas told jurors that Kwame Kilpatrick often was showered with cash gifts from city workers and political supporters during holidays and birthdays.
Kwame Kilpatrick, 42, was elected mayor in 2001 at age 31. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a different scandal involving sexually explicit text messages and an extramarital affair with his chief of staff.
He spent 14 months in prison for violating probation in that case after a judge said he failed to report assets that could be put toward his $1 million restitution to Detroit.
Voters booted his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., from Congress in 2010, partly because of a negative perception of her because of her son's troubles.
AP/Detroit Free Press