Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feds need to catch the big fish

Federal prosecutors’ mediocre batting average in high-profile public corruption cases reared its head again last week with the mistrials in the John Edwards case.
Like the up-and-down seasons of the Detroit Tigers, the feds over the years have had some big wins and losses (and ties, per the Edwards outcome) when it comes to cracking down on public officials and figures, nationally and locally.
It was in the early 2000s that two local public officials, Carl Marlinga and Chuck Busse, were accused of corruption by the feds in Detroit on weak evidence, and both won acquittals. The feds got creamed.
On the other hand, the Detroit FBI and Department of Justice offices were very successful in their probe into corruption into two local school districts that started in 1999 and lasted through the mid 2000’s. It resulted in the superintendents of East Detroit and Clintondale schools and a retired police inspector going to prison, along with more than a dozen others being convicted.
More recently, the Detroit feds are honed in, in their probes into the city of Detroit and Wayne County governments.
Five people have been charged so far in Wayne County, the younger of the two investigations.
In the 5-year-old city of Detroit investigation, the feds have gained guilty pleas from 10 people, as well as two others in a spinoff investigation in Southfield.
A pretty good scorecard for the feds.
But, fairly or unfairly, in many people’s eyes the ultimate success or failure of the Detroit case will lay with the outcome of the trial of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, scheduled to begin in September.
Kwame’s dad, Bernard, and buddy, Bobby Ferguson, also face charges. But the former hip-hop mayor is the scandal's big fish, and the feds have to reel him in.


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