Kwame Kilpatrick to go free after Donald Trump commutes sentence of former Detroit mayor


(WWJ) With less than 12 hours left in office, President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

This means Kilpatrick will be released 20 years early from the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana.

A statement from the White House on the commutation of Kilpatrick, 50, reads: "Mr Kilpatrick has served approximately 7 years in prison for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme when he held public office. During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible study with his fellow inmates."

The statement also said the move is supported by several prominent members of the Detroit community, including 30 faith leaders, State House Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo and State Rep. Karen Whitsett.

Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years behind bars, convicted in 2013 on 24 felony counts of public corruption for a criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Prosecutors said he used his positions as a state representative and then mayor to enrich himself and his friends.

He was not expected to be paroled until at least January, 2037.

He served as mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008.

Mr. Trump pardoned nearly 150 people in his final hours in office, including former White House Chief Strategist, Steven Bannon; Casey Urlacher, brother of former NFL star Brian Urlacher; and rapper Lil' Wayne.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan affirmed his support for Kilpatrick in a statement Wednesday. "This is a decision President Trump got right," Duggan said in a statement.

"Kwame Kilpatrick is a person of great talent who still has much to contribute," Duggan added. "I know how close he is to his three sons and I could not be happier for them being together again."

On the other side, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit Matthew Schneider says Kwame Kilpatrick earned every day he served in federal prison for the "horrible crimes he committed against the people of Detroit." Schneider says Kilpatrick is a "notorious and unrepentant criminal" who remains convicted of 24 felonies.  And Schneider says thankfully, under Michigan law, Kilpatrick cannot hold state or local public office for 20 years after his conviction.

This is a developing story. Keep it tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 on air, online and on app for reaction from the community and the latest information.