Good News for the Feds; Bad News for Detroit’s Ex-“Hip Hop Mayor” Kwame Kilpatrick

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo
By Allan Lengel

Good news for the feds. Bad news for Kwame Kilpatrick, the  ex- “hip hop mayor” of Detroit, who is eye-brow deep in legal trouble.

Derrick Miller, 41, a Kilpatrick confidante who worked as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to corruption and tax charges and agreed to cooperate and testify for the feds against Kilpatrick, who faces federal corruption charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit announced.

Federal authorities said that Miller admitted, among many things, that “at the direction of then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Miller and other members of the City administration assisted Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson by steering millions of dollars of City business to Ferguson.”

Ferguson is a contractor and close friend of Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick, as well as his top assistants, including Miller and Victor Mercado (ex-head of the city Water Department), pressured contractors to put Ferguson on City contracts they had received, or risk having the contracts held up or canceled, authorities alleged.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Mercado and other City officials influenced the award of contracts to teams that included Ferguson on them, including re-evaluating bids if Ferguson was not part of the winning team. Miller and other City officials also gave Ferguson inside information about contracts or bid evaluations to give Ferguson’s team an edge over competing bidders.

Kwame was sometimes referred to as the “hip hop mayor” because of his hip, young image as an up and coming mayor.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Kilpatrick told reporters he would “absolutely not” answer questions as he left a book signing. His father and codefendant, Bernard, said of Miller, according to the Free Press: “I know the kind of pressure that the government puts on people in these kinds of situations. They pushed him right in a corner. He felt he had no choice.”

“This guilty plea marks an important step in the investigation and prosecution of those involved in municipal corruption during the Kilpatrick administration of the City of Detroit,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. “It also serves as a warning to those who hold public office throughout this region that there are serious consequences to abusing the trust of the citizens they are supposed to serve.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena added: “This plea is part of a multi-year, multi-agency investigation in to the corruption plaguing the City of Detroit.”


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