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Kilpatrick's corruption was so widespread it's considered to be the final straw that pushed Detroit into bankruptcy.
A federal judge sentenced former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to 28 years in prison on Thursday, saying it was time the residents of the bankrupt city started to heal.
Kilpatrick, 43, was found guilty of wielding nearly unchecked power and perpetrating a corruption scandal so deep that it pushed Detroit even faster towards its eventual bankruptcy.
"That way of business is over," US District Judge Nancy Edmunds said during the sentencing. "We’re done. We’re moving forward."
The man who used to be known as the 'hip-hop mayor' was convicted in March of two dozen counts that included charges of racketeering and extortion.
During the hearing, Edmunds recounted a laundry list of Kilpatrick's wrongdoings including taking bribes, extortion, deceiving donors, handing out contracts to friends and family and squandering public funds.
Prosecutors said he splashed out on expensive dinners, football tickets and even a trip to Las Vegas paid for on the city credit card.
Kilpatrick's opulence came as the city of Detroit was encountering a perfect storm of financial troubles that led it straight into bankruptcy court.
"He's become the poster child of what went wrong with the city and why it went bankrupt," Adolph Mongo, a political consultant who worked for Mr. Kilpatrick’s re-election campaign, told the New York Times.
But the city's poor financial health was not because of any single elected leader, he told the paper.
"It was a house of cards,", he added. "Kilpatrick was the last card. He fell, and it knocked everything down."
Kilpatrick told the court on Thursday that he was remorseful for his actions but stopped short of admitting any guilt.
"I've been a tremendous problem for all the people who have felt that I let them down ... I say with every morsel in my being that I'm sorry," he said, later adding: "I just hope that one day I can forgive myself."
Three others who were indicted with Kilpatrick, his close friend and contractor Bobby Ferguson, his father Bernard Kilpatrick and former water department director Victor Mercado, are still awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors alleged that Ferguson was the beneficiary of an extortion scheme that netted him $73 million worth of city contracts.
"The amount of crime, it was astonishing and it had a huge impact on this city," prosecutor Mark Chutkow told the Times as he left the courthouse on Thursday.