Donald Trump Pardons Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Rapper Lil Wayne on Last Day in Office
Donald Trump, in his last hours as president, commuted the sentence of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who had been convicted in 2013 on multiple corruption charges, and issued a full pardon to hip-hop superstar Lil’ Wayne early Wednesday. (Jan. 20).
The move, announced by the White House, comes as part of a wave of 73 pardons and 70 commutations the president has granted to mark his exit.
Kilpatrick, 50, had resigned from office after a text messaging scandal had revealed an illicit affair with his chief of staff. Further investigation revealed a litany of illegal activity and he was eventually convicted on 24 federal felony counts, which included mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering and was sentenced to 28 years behind bars. Over the past year, rumors had been floated that he would be released from federal prison due to risk of coronavirus, but none of them turned out to be true.
He had appealed several times, but each of those attempts failed. Michigan State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo had even hand delivered a letter asking for Kilpatrick’s release during a White House event in February 2020.
“Mr. Kilpatrick has served approximately 7 years in prison for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while he held public office,” the White House statement reads. “During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”
Meanwhile, Lil’ Wayne, 38, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, will not go to prison due to Trump’s pardon. He pleaded guilty last month to a federal charge of possession of a weapon despite having been a convicted felon, when a handgun was found on his chartered jet after landing in Miami in December 2019.
According to the Associated Press, the “A Milli” rapper admitted having the gold-plated handgun and six rounds of ammunition, which was found in his luggage. He posted $250,000 bail and had his passport taken by authorities. His hearing had been scheduled for Jan. 28, and he faced 10 years in prison if convicted.
But during Trump’s campaign last year, Wayne tweeted photos of himself and the president after a meeting in an apparent show of support and said he backed Trump’s “Platinum Plan” which addressed criminal justice reform and economic opportunity with Black people in America. The endorsement garnered wide criticism, but Wayne never changed his mind.
Wayne’s backing seems to have been enough for Trump to grant him the commutation and help him avoid another conviction. He served eight months in New York on weapons charges and was released in 2010.
“Mr. Carter has exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of food banks,” reads the White House statement. “Deion Sanders, who also wrote in support of this pardon, calls Mr Wayne “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a way maker, [and] a game changer.”