JANUARY 28, 2010
Public corruption cases keep piling up in a notoriously shady U.S. city that has seen its scandal-plagued mayor go to prison for a multitude of crimes, a deputy mayor and prominent city councilwoman each plead guilty to bribery in different schemes and several public school employees charged with numerous felonies for embezzling education funds.
In the latest scandal to rock Detroit, a top aide (DeDan Milton) of the city’s criminal felon mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) has been federally indicted with multiple counts of bribery and extortion for taking kickbacks involving the sale of city-owned properties. Milton is actually the brother of the deputy mayor, Kandia Milton, who just a month ago pleaded guilty for orchestrating the illegal arrangement.
The unscrupulous and politically-connected brothers split a $50,000 bribe paid in exchange for their recommendation that the Detroit City Council approve a $3.5 million sale of a 160-acre parcel. A Detroit Police officer has also been implicated in the affair, which involves the Chaldean Catholic Church.
This simply marks the latest chapter in famously crooked Detroit City Hall politics. In the last few years alone, several city council members and even a police chief have been indicted, arrested or imprisoned and countless others have been federally investigated for wrongdoing.
Kilpatrick, who was mayor for six years, has the longest rap sheet. The self-described “Hip-Hop” mayor got charged with nearly a dozen felonies before going to prison. Most stemmed from lying under oath at a police whistleblower trial to hide an extramarital affair with a city staffer. The cops had been wrongfully fired for asking questions that could have exposed the mayor’s undercover romance and Kilpatrick orchestrated a secret city deal to pay the officers nearly $9 million to shut up. Details of the scandalous settlement were only made public after a local newspaper filed a public records lawsuit.
Less than a year later, a veteran city councilwoman who happens to be married to the Michigan Democrat (John Conyers) that chairs the House Judiciary Committee got busted for taking bribes. Capping a lengthy federal investigation, Monica Conyers finally admitted that she took bribes from a developer to change her vote on a major city contract. She is scheduled to be sentenced in March and faces up to five years in jail.
Weeks later five officials from the cash-strapped Detroit Public School system, long known as a cesspool of fraud and mismanagement, got criminally charged for operating an illegal scheme in which they openly stole tens of thousands of dollars from the system, took illegal kickbacks and paid friends who never did any work for the district.
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