DETROIT — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Kwame M. Kilpatrick, the former mayor of this beleaguered city, to 28 years in prison for widespread corruption that prosecutors say deepened the city’s financial crisis.
“At the very least, a significant sentence will send a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated,” said Judge Nancy G. Edmunds of US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Kilpatrick, 43, was convicted of two dozen counts in March that included charges of racketeering and extortion, adding his name to a list of at least 18 city officials convicted of corruption during his tenure as mayor.
His sentencing comes at a sobering moment for the city he once led, which is now remaking itself in bankruptcy court as residents wrestle over whom to blame for the mess.
“He’s become the poster child of what went wrong with the city and why it went bankrupt,” said Adolph Mongo, a political consultant who worked for his reelection campaign. Yet, he said, it was unfair to pin the city’s problems on any single elected leader.
Kilpatrick’s lawyers had pushed for a sentence of no more than 15 years. They have 14 days to file an appeal.
Kilpatrick spoke softly as he pleaded with the court for a lesser sentence Thursday and apologized to any residents that he may have let down.
“They’re hurting,” he said, adding, “A great deal of that hurt I accept full responsibility for.”