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Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was among 70 people who had their prison sentences commuted by President Trump early Wednesday, just hours before the end of the president’s term in office.
The commutation had been long sought by Kilpatrick, 50, who has served roughly seven years of a 28-year sentence for public corruption crimes on which he was convicted in 2013.
As a result of President Trump’s decision, Kilpatrick will be released from prison early.
Seventy-three other people, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, received pardons from the president.
What was his road to commutation?
Kilpatrick, a Detroit native and Democrat, was a Michigan state representative from 1997 to 2002 before serving as the mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008.
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The former mayor’s downfall began when the Detroit Free Press published text messages between him and his female chief of staff that appeared to show he lied during a police whistleblower trial while denying an affair between the pair. He resigned from office in 2008.
Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison in 2013 after he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion, and tax crimes related to shaking down contractors and rewarding his allies. The government called the scheme the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sits in a Detroit courtroom. The disgraced former mayor is slated to be released from prison following the commutation by President Trump early Wednesday. (Associated Press)
He has maintained his innocence and been fighting his sentence ever since. However, all of his appeals have failed over the years.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied his original appeal of his conviction and sentence in 2015, according to Detroit’s WDIV-TV.
He filed another motion in 2017 to vacate his prison sentence, which was denied by a district court judge, the station reported.
He later asked Trump for a presidential pardon and clemency in a blog post back in 2018.
“By God’s grace, I have received a pardon from Him, through Christ Jesus. I pray that I will receive the opportunity for Pardon/Clemency from the President of the United States as well,” he wrote on the Free Kwame Project website, according to FOX 2 of Detroit.
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In 2019, he was denied again by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, reports said. The U.S. Supreme Court even refused to hear his case, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Last year, rumors spread that he was going to be freed early and allowed to live in home confinement in Georgia, the paper reported.
In November, Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett and family members said Kilpatrick would be released — after claiming in May that he would be out due to the coronavirus. Both never happened.
In a February letter to President Trump, the Ebony Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to combating mass incarceration, argued that Kilpatrick’s lengthy sentence was not appropriate for his crimes.
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Kilpatrick has been incarcerated at a low-security prison in Louisiana and was originally scheduled to be released in January 2037 before Trump’s commutation order was announced early Wednesday.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.
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