Kwame Kilpatrick Granted Early Release From Prison: Sources

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be released early from federal prison, sources say, due to the pandemic.

According to a Friday news release from the Ebony Foundation, Kilpatrick has been granted a compationate release after serving only seven years of his lengthy sentence. 

State Representative Karen Whitsett of Detroit says she got confirmation directly from President Donald Trump, who told her Thursday that Kilpatrick would be one of 3,000 prisoners released because of the coronavirus. 

"We already felt that he had definitely gotten more time than he had absolutely deserved, and that he is not a menace to society," Whitsett told WWJ's Charlie Langton.

Whitsett said there have been 42 cases of COVID-19 and five deaths at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, where the 49-year-old Kilpatrick remained held on Friday, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

People close to the ex-mayor told WDIV that he's currently under a 21-day quarantine in preparation for his release. Family members said they were hopeful that Kilpatrick would get out on June 10.

Once released, Whitsett told WWJ that Kilpatrick will be held under house arrest. 

Detroit's current mayor, Mike Duggan, expressed his support for Kilpatrick. 

"When he was teaching at Marcus Garvey and going to law school at night at DCL, he'd study in his father's office, which was next to mine, and his twins would play on the floor in my office at the county building," Duggan said during Friday's press conference. "He's one of the most extraordinarly talented people I've ever met. I think he has a lot to contribute....I'll be doing anything I can to help him get a fresh start." 

The two have known eachother since Kilpatrick was in high school. 

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 2037.

After one fellow inmate of Kilpatrick's died of COVID-19 at Oakdale, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon was among those who said letting the ex-mayor out should be looked at, as prisons have shown to be breeding grounds for the virus.

"Certainly, the former mayor did something that he should not have done," Napoleon told WWJ. "But, realistically I think that we should look at it like — especially during this pandemic — are you mad at him, or are you scared of him?" the sheriff said.

"If you're scared of them, they deserve to be incarcerated. If all you are is mad at them, then we should figure out something, some other way to punish people that we're just mad at, we're not afraid of." 

Where Kilpatrick will serve his house arrest, if he plans to come back to Detroit or where else he would go is not yet known. 

Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo back in in February delivered a letter to President Trump from Detroit leaders seeking clemency for Kilpatrick. Millionaire businessman Peter Karmanos has also lobbied for a Kilpatrick pardon from Trump.

Asked by reporters about Kilpatrick's pending release on Friday, current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he would support Kilpatrick in any way possible. 

Kilpatrick, known as the Hip-Hop Mayor for his swagger, crew of cohorts, diamond earring, and custom suits, was the youngest mayor ever elected in Detroit when he took office at 32 years old. He once was considered a lock for higher office and spent time with political luminaries including Barack Obama.

He went to prison when he was convicted of running a scheme that involved enriching himself and his crew with kickbacks and pay-to-play schemes; The word 'disgraced' began widely appearing before the words 'former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick' when he was convicted of perjury after he claimed he was not having an affair with his chief of staff Christine Beatty. A string of sexy text messages between the two, first published in the Free Press, outed their relationship, and the courtroom lies.

Since then, he has alternately pleaded for release, begged the city for forgiveness, blamed others for his crimes, and said he was wrongfully convicted. He sought a presidential pardon in January.