Jury Selection Begins in Kwame Kilpatrick Corruption Case
Former Detroit Mayor and associates accused of setting up criminal enterprise in mayor's office
CNN Wire Staff
September 06, 2012(CNN) -- Jury selection kicked off Thursday in the federal corruption case of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his associates, who are accused of setting up a criminal enterprise in the mayor's office that engaged in racketeering, bribery, fraud and extortion.
A panel of 12 jurors, with six alternates, will decide the fate of Kilpatrick; his father, Bernard Kilpatrick; contractor Bobby Ferguson; and Victor Mercado, a former director of Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department. Prosecutors say they were involved in rigging millions of dollars worth of city contracts and extorting city contractors.
The jury panel will be whittled from a pool of more than 200 potential candidates.
All four men have maintained their innocence. Their attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutors say the defendants were "working together to abuse Kilpatrick's public offices, both his position as a state representative as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud."
At the heart of the scheme was corruption in municipal contracting, mostly centering on the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Derrick Miller, a former Kilpatrick aide, entered into a plea agreement last year and is expected to testify against his former associates.
In September 2008, the ex-mayor pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice stemming from his efforts to cover up an extramarital affair.
He also pleaded no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer who was attempting to serve a subpoena on a Kilpatrick friend in that case.