DETROIT – Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be released from prison after serving seven years of a 28-year sentence for his role in a major corruption scandal after President Donald Trump commuted his sentence late Tuesday night.
“President Trump commuted the sentence of the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick,” reads a statement from the White House. “This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community, Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, Pastor Paula White, Peter Karmanos, Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of the Michigan House of Representatives, Rep. Karen Whitsett of the Michigan House of Representatives, and more than 30 faith leaders. Mr. Kilpatrick has served approximately 7 years in prison for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while he held public office. During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”
In October of 2020, Kilpatrick’s sister, Ayanna, said she expected the release to happen, but it never happened.
“Due to suffering severe health challenges we expect Kwame Kilpatrick to receive a grant for COVID-19 compassionate release from the FBOP this week,” Ayanna Kilpatrick tweeted at the time.
As of Sunday night, Kilpatrick’s release date was still listed for January 18, 2037 on the Bureau of Prison inmate directory. Earlier this year, Kilpatrick’s family believed he would be released for COVID-19 concerns, but the request was denied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Kilpatrick, 50, is currently serving a 28-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana.
Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison in 2013 after being convicted of racketeering, mail fraud, and wire fraud, among other charges. He has been fighting his sentence ever since. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied his original appeal of his conviction and sentence. He filed another motion in 2017 to vacate his prison sentence, and that was denied by a district court judge.
In 2019, he was denied again by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2018, Kilpatrick wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, asking for his sentence to be commuted.
In January 2020, billionaire Peter Karmanos, a long time friend of Kilpatrick, said he was working to get the ex-mayor a presidential pardon. Karmanos spoke on Charlie LeDuff’s podcast, implying that Kilpatrick was a victim of a political conspiracy and that he will use his influence with President Donald Trump to get him freed from prison.
In February 2020, Detroit State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo attended the national African American History celebration at the White House after discussions with President Trump’s team on the Kilpatrick issue. Gay-Dagnogo brought a letter signed by politicians and pastors across the state requesting commutation of sentence.
In May, despite belief from his family that he would be released, Kilpatrick’s request for early release due to COVID-19 was rejected by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Kilpatrick served as mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008. He resigned in 2008 following the corruption scandal. Before serving as mayor, Kilpatrick served in the Michigan State House of Representative.
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