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As Kwame Kilpatrick heads to prison, prosecutors say: show Detroit the money

Prosecutors want disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a boyhood friend to pay $9.6 million in restitution directly to the City of Detroit. The ex-mayor was sentenced to 28 years Thursday.

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In this courtroom sketch, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, stands before federal Judge Nancy Edmunds during his sentencing in federal court on Thursday in Detroit.

Jerry Lemenu/AP

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With former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick heading to federal prison for a 28-year term, the prosecutors who helped send him there are demanding: Show Detroit the money.

The US Attorney’s Office in Detroit wants Mr. Kilpatrick and boyhood friend Bobby Ferguson to pay $9.6 million in restitution directly to the City of Detroit. That is the sum they say the two men gained in an elaborate scheme to strong-arm city contractors working for the Water and Sewerage Department into funneling an estimated $74 million in city contracts to shell companies operated by Mr. Ferguson.

The criminal enterprise also included Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and ex-water department director Victor Mercado.

“It is beyond question that the City of Detroit and its citizens were the clear cut victims of the defendants’ crimes,” prosecutors said in court documents filed earlier this week.

US District Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced Kwame Kilpatrick Thursday, saying he “used his power as mayor ... to steer an astounding amount of business” to his cohorts. Ferguson received a 21-year sentence Friday. In that hearing, Judge Edmunds called Ferguson “the catalyst at the center of an historic and unprecedented criminal scheme.”

Edmunds has not yet determined exactly how much Kilpatrick or Ferguson will have to pay, but a hearing to establish that figure will take place within the next 90 days. As part of the sentencing phase, Edmunds trimmed the government’s estimate of how much the city lost to conspiracy from $9.6 million to $4.6 million.

Yet there are complications in Detroit seeing even a dime. Kilpatrick claims he is penniless, and he is barred from earning a living while in prison. Also, he still owes more than $800,000 of a remaining $1 million restitution order stemming from a 2008 obstruction of justice conviction that sent him to jail for four months.

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