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Organizational Crimes of Opportunity

It’s all over but the sentencing….

The Kwame Kilpatrick saga will soon reach its sad, yet gratifying end.   After systematically abusing the public trust while in office as mayor of Detroit, Mr. Kilpatrick will likely spend a good portion of the rest of his life in federal prison.  Politicians are often cursed by the same attributes that lead them to seek office in the first place.  Strong personality, ambition, and ego make for confident speakers and effective leaders, but the flip side of these “attributes” often rears their ugly head in office.  Kilpatrick’s need for personal gratification and sense of entitlement ultimately took precedence over the needs of his constituents.

Despite the abundant amounts of incriminating text messages and other evidence, some of those constituents still support their embattled former mayor.   They wonder aloud if the government would have been so vigorous in its prosecution if Mr. Kilpatrick were Caucasian.  Recent prosecutions of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and former Vice-Presidential Candidate John Edwards, however, seem to contradict these claims of racial motivation.

Since its inception in 1970, prosecutors have used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in a variety of ways.  Originally enacted to combat the growing presence of the Mafia, the act has been broadly applied to public corruption, corporations, and even churches.

In criminal law, some offenses are characterized as “crimes of opportunity.”  An obvious example would be a passerby stealing an unattended purse on a park bench.   Organizations provide its leaders with an equally obvious “opportunity” for criminality.    When powerful organizations are used to commit crimes, the damage is often devastating.  The financial costs of the lengthy and complicated Kilpatrick prosecution will be immense, but worth it.  The guilty verdicts restore a measure faith in the justice system, and serve as a warning to future bad actors.

For more information or to speak with us about your legal issue, please contact us in Ann Arbor at 734-665-4441.  To learn more about Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C., or any of our attorneys, please visit us at


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