State - Kilpatrick arraigned in federal court

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father sat together as criminal defendants Monday at the first court hearings since prosecutors filed a sweeping indictment that charges them with turning city hall into a den of corruption.

Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and three others accused of a multi-year racketeering conspiracy. At a subsequent hearing an hour later, a judge said the "unusual and complex" case won't be on a fast track.

Defense lawyers need much time to look at the evidence, "given that it took six years to bring about this indictment," U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said.

The 89-page indictment returned in December describes a brazen pay-to-play scheme in which the Kilpatricks took kickbacks and bribes to steer city business to certain contractors, especially pal Bobby Ferguson. Prosecutors call it the "Kilpatrick enterprise."

The new charges were piled on top of tax and fraud charges pending against Kwame Kilpatrick for how he handled money from a nonprofit fund when he was mayor from 2002 to fall 2008.

"His spirits are great. We're going to fight this case," the ex-mayor's defense attorney, James Thomas, told reporters.

Kwame Kilpatrick was transported to court from a federal prison in Milan, Mich., where he is serving a sentence for violating probation in an unrelated state case.

Appearing trim and wearing a thick beard, he was allowed to change into a suit and tie. The Kilpatricks and Ferguson sat together at the same table in Edmunds' courtroom, sharing small talk, smiles and hugs.

Their co-defendants, former city water boss Victor Mercado of San Antonio and former mayoral aide Derrick Miller of McLean, Va., sat at a different table and didn't mix with the others.

Because of their lack of money, the Kilpatricks are being represented by court-appointed counsel paid by taxpayers, although Bernard Kilpatrick was ordered to at least pay $100 a month.

Edmunds set the next court hearing for April 13.

Published: Wed, Jan 12, 2011