DETROIT – Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, already in prison for probation violations, was indicted Wednesday on federal fraud and tax charges, accused of a turning a charity into a personal slush fund for cash, travel, yoga, summer camp and even anti-bugging equipment.
The indictment was the latest blow for Kilpatrick, who in May was sent to state prison for at least 14 months for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case tied to sexually explicit text messages and an affair with a top aide.
The indictment said Kilpatrick, 40, created the Civic Fund in 1999 and gained tax-exempt status after declaring that it would be a social-welfare organization to enhance neighborhoods, help youth and improve Detroit's image.
The government, however, said the goal seemed to be to enrich Kilpatrick. He is charged with failing to report at least $640,000 in taxable income between 2003 and 2008, the value of the cash, private jet flights and personal expenses paid by the fund.
Kilpatrick used the fund to pay for yoga and golf, camp for his kids, travel, moving expenses to Texas, a crisis manager, cars, polling, political consulting and much more, including "counter-surveillance and anti-bugging equipment," according to the indictment.
The indictment said donors were fooled into believing their money would be going to other legal purposes.
"It is important that public officials not escape prosecution just because they leave office," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "Public officials need to be held accountable to deter them and others from cheating our citizens in the future."
Kilpatrick spokesman Mike Paul said his family was aware the indictment was coming. He put a positive spin on it, noting that the former mayor was not charged with public corruption after a yearslong investigation at city hall that has netted many others.
"This investigation puts an end to the ridiculous rumors that the mayor was personally involved with corruption, payoffs and bribes," Paul said. "It is important to understand the Civic Fund is a non-political, nonprofit organization, which the mayor never ran day-to-day. We will have more on the Civic Fund in the near future."
Kilpatrick's mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., said she was "devastated" by the charges.
"As a mother, I hope for the best for my son and will always be there for him. Beyond that, I have no further comment," she said.
Messages seeking comment were left with James Thomas and Arnold Reed, lawyers who have represented Kilpatrick in his other recent legal woes. He will be arraigned on July 13.
In May, Kilpatrick was sentenced to up to five years in state prison for violating probation in the criminal case that forced him out of office in September 2008. Kilpatrick was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to Detroit for lying in a civil lawsuit that cost the city $8.4 million.
A judge found that Kilpatrick had failed to turn over money to whittle his restitution and disclose certain assets.