No pardon for Kwame? Very interesting!!!!!
A flurry of pardons and commutations from President Donald Trump has ignited hope in supporters of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that their man might also go free.
Kilpatrick this fall will complete his seventh year in federal prison, with 21 years to go.
With the president in a forgiving mood — he pardoned or granted clemency to 11 crooks two weeks ago, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — the Free Kwame movement is gaining steam. Detroit state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo carried a letter to the president signed by a broad coalition of Detroiters urging clemency for Kilpatrick during a visit to the White House last week.
Earlier this month, businessman Pete Karamanos, a Trump donor, added his voice to those calling for Kilpatrick’s freedom, and Mayor Mike Duggan expressed sympathy for the cause.
I was among those surprised by the severity of the sentence handed down after Kilpatrick was convicted of running a criminal enterprise out of City Hall.
But there were reasons the sentence was so long, and reasons it likely won’t be commuted.
The Free Kwame activists contend the lengthy term was rooted in racism — after all, Blagojevich, who is white, was convicted for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat a few years before Kilpatrick went to trial and got only 14 years.
But prison sentences are like real estate assessments — they’re based on comparables. Kilpatrick and Blagojevich were both corrupt politicians, but a big difference between them was that the Detroit mayor pocketed a lot of money, while the Illinois governor never got his payoff.
Supporters contend Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence was too harsh for the crime. The former mayor, who has three children, turns 50 in June and will be 70 when he walks out of prison, if he serves his full term.
In setting sentencing guidelines for Kilpatrick, the feds found the most similarities with the case of Jimmy Dimora, a Cuyahoga County, Ohio commissioner convicted in 2012 on 32 charges, including racketeering, bribery, conspiracy and tax evasion. Dimora, who is white, was also sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.
His punishment informed the sentence given to Kilpatrick, who turned down a deal to plead guilty before trial in exchange for 15 years. Courts don’t reward defendants who roll the dice and lose.
Working against his release is that Kilpatrick has not demonstrated remorse or accepted responsibility for his actions, generally a prerequisite for clemency.
Perhaps a bigger obstacle is that the feds believe millions of dollars gained from bribes and payoffs remain unaccounted for. Investigators are still actively searching for the money.
Some have speculated that in an election year in which Michigan may again play a key role in choosing the president, Trump might free Kilpatrick to court Detroit voters.
But Detroiters aren’t universally convinced Kilpatrick got the shaft. And for every vote Trump would pick up from Kilpatrick supporters in Detroit, he’d likely lose two elsewhere in Michigan.
Trump is unpredictable, and could act on a whim. But I doubt it happens.
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