Derrick Miller, ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's right-hand man, leaves the courthouse after being sentenced on Thursday, May 28, 2014 in Detroit. / Jarrad Henderson, Detroit Free Press
DETROIT -- In the end, cooperation worked. That's what the government learned in relying on Derrick Miller for help in putting away corrupt politicians and crooked contractors.
And that's what Miller learned as he was spared a prison sentence Thursday for his role in a massive public corruption scheme that cost Detroit more than $10 million, eroded public trust in government and triggered a decade-long investigation that netted 34 convictions and sent 17 people to prison for more than 80 years combined.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick got the stiffest of those sentences: 28 years.
Miller helped make that happen. For his help, he avoided prison.
Miller, the last remaining remaining defendant of the so-called Kilpatrick Enterprise and one-time most trusted adviser to Kilpatrick, was sentenced to 12 months in a halfway house Thursday. That was a significant departure from the advisory guidelines range of 70-87 months in prison for his crimes, which were bribery and tax evasion.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Miller's sentence should send a message to others.
"The court recognized that Miller's cooperation was extraordinary and essential to bringing to justice other more serious wrongdoers. ... Public officials should take note that early and extraordinary cooperation will yield a substantially lower sentence," McQuade said.
"The hard work of investigators and prosecutors was worth the effort because a culture of corruption has been exposed and the culprits held accountable. By demonstrating that citizens find corruption intolerable and demand more from elected leaders, we believe that this case has restored a city government that works for the people. The pay-to-play era is over."
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds cited Miller's cooperation in the historic public corruption trial that lasted five months and ended with guilty verdicts. Miller gave the jury a firsthand perspective on how Kilpatrick's inner circle ran a criminal enterprise out of the mayor's office to get rich. Specifically, he told the jury that Kilpatrick steered lucrative water contracts to friend Bobby Ferguson and instructed his circle of friends to get Ferguson work whenever possible.
"It was his testimony that brought it all together," said Edmunds, who then addressed Miller personally. "I know how extremely difficult this had to have been for you. This was a lifelong friend â?¦ and testifying against someone as close to you as Kwame Kilpatrick was â?¦ it took tremendous courage."
Edmunds noted that Miller had done wrong - he previously pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion - and that he needed to be punished for his crimes. Prison, however, just didn't seem appropriate, she said.
Before Edmunds handed down the sentence, she gave Miller a chance to speak, though Miller had little to say. He said he didn't want to rehash the whole trial again and that he just wanted to thank the "citizens of Detroit, friends and family, particularly my father, and my mother, who's been like a rock." He also thanked his lawyers, and Edmunds, too.
Miller, 44, of Vienna, Va., was among the original five defendants indicted in the public corruption case in 2010. Ten months after getting indicted, he cut a deal with the government and agreed to testify against the others at trial. They included Kilpatrick, who got 28 years, and Kilpatrick's longtime contractor friend Ferguson, who got 21 years. Former Detroit water chief Victor Mercado, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the middle of trial, got eight months in a halfway house.
Miller got three years supervised release, which includes 12 months at a halfway house. The location will be determined at a later date. Edmunds also ordered that Miller pay restitution and back taxes with penalties to the IRS.
Copyright 2015 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Ex-Detroit mayor's key adviser spared prison