Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been described as the most corrupt US mayor in recent years

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Corrupt US mayors pose a
threat to decency in society

Research by City Mayors*

16 July 2014: The preamble to the City Mayors’ Code of Ethics states that honest local government is the foundation of any nation that strives to provide its citizens with happiness, security and prosperity. It continues to say that corruption and misconduct by local government officials threaten fundamental decency in a society. America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which warns that public corruption poses a fundamental threat to national security and the US way of life, has over the past four decades investigated hundreds of elected officials, who used their positions to enrich themselves. Among those convicted are leaders of some of the largest US cities, including Detroit, New Orleans or Baltimore, but also many mayors from small-town America.

The title of the most corrupt US mayor in recent years must go to Detroit’s Kwame Kilpatrick, who took office in 2002, promising to revitalise the city. Instead he used his position to steal from the citizens he had promised to serve. FBI Special Agent Robert Beckman, who investigated the mayor and his corrupt regime for eight years, said that criminal activity was a way of life for him. “He constantly used the power of his office to look for new opportunities to make money illegally.”

In July 2013, Kwame Kilpatrick was given a 28-year prison sentence for racketeering, extortion, bribery and fraud. In its submission the FBI said that Kilpatrick and his associates established a ‘pay to play’ system that made breaking the law standard operating procedure. “Kilpatrick extorted city vendors, rigged bids, and took bribes. He used funds from non-profit civic organisations to line his pockets and those of his family. And he was unabashed about it.”

Trenton’s (NJ) former mayor Tony Mack received a 58-months prison sentence in May 2014 after being convicted of extortion and bribery. Together with his brother Ralphiel, the former mayor operated a scheme of accepting bribes in exchange for assisting local businesses. A member of the US Attorney’s office told the court that within 10 weeks of moving into City Hall, the mayor started to sell influence. “Instead of providing transparent government to the citizens of Trenton, Tony Mack and his brother allowed themselves to succumb to self-interest and greed.”

Ray Nagin, who served as Mayor of New Orleans from 2002 to 2010, came to national and international prominence in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed large parts of the city. In 2009, three years after being re-elected to a second term, allegations began to emerge of the mayor using his office to obtain benefits from local companies supplying the city. In February 2014, a court convicted Ray Nagin of bribery and extortion. The court was told that the mayor took more than $500,000 n payouts from businessmen in exchange for millions of dollars' worth of city contracts.

The former mayor’s sentencing brought to a close close a sordid chapter in New Orleans’ history in which the man charged with leading a city out of crisis instead chose to enrich himself, his family and friends. Despite New Orleans' long history of political corruption, Nagin was the first mayor to be criminally charged for corruption in office.

After only four months in office, Patrick Cannon, Mayor of Charlotte (NC), resigned after he was arrested by the FBI for public theft and bribery. The arrest followed an FBI sting operation that dated back to 2010. Following the former mayor’s guilty plea in June 2014, a spokesman for the US Attorney office said in a statement that Parick Cannon had used his official position to enrich himself at the expense of the City of Charlotte. “Through his actions, Cannon betrayed the trust of his constituents and his peers, compromised the integrity of our local government, and damaged Charlotte’s good reputation as a city that does business the honest way.”

List of US mayors who used their office
to enrich themselves and their associates
Year of sentence
Tony Mack Trenton, NJ (Popl 84,500) Corruption 58 months prison
Ray Nagin New Orleans, LA (369,250) Corruption 10 years prison
Patrick Cannon Charlotte, NC (793,000) Theft and bribery Awaiting sentence
Omar Leonel Vela Progreso, TX (5,700) Bribery and corruption Awaiting sentence
Kwame Kilpatrick Detroit, MI (701,500) Racketeering, extortion, mail fraud 28 years prison
Dennis P. Elwell Secaucus, NJ (18,350) Bribery Prison
Larry Kangford Birmingham, AL (212,000) Bribery, fraud 15 years prison
Eddie Price Mandeville, LA (12,100) Tax evasion and corruption 40 months prison
Peter Cammarano Hoboken, NJ Extortion 24 months prison
Sheila Ann Dixon Baltimore, MD (621,000) Embezzlement Loss of pension
Sharpe James Newark, NJ (277,000) Fraud 27 months prison
Samuel Rivera Passaic, NJ (70,200) Attempted extortion 21 months prison
Emmanuel Onunwor East Cleveland, OH (17,800) Corruption and tax evasion 9 years prison
Anthony Russo Hoboken, NJ (52,000) Public corruption 30 months prison
Joseph Peter Ganim Bridgeport. CN (146,400) Kickbacks Prison
Vincent Albert Cianci Providence, RI (178,400) Racketeering 5 years prison
Betty Loren-Maltese Cicero, IL (84,000) Insurance fraud 8 years prison
Milon Milan Camden, NJ (77,300) Corruption 7 years prison
Raúl L. Martínez Hialeah, FL (231,900) Extortion and racketeering Jury deadlocked
Walter Tucker Compton, CA (97,600) Extortion and tax evasion 27 months prison
Charles Paniki Chicago Heights, IL (30,400) Bribery 10 years prison
Gerald McCann Jersey City, NJ (254,400) Fraud 2 years prison
Alex Daoud Miami Beach, FL (90,600) Bribery 18 months prison
Lee Alexander Syracure, NY (145,000) Racketeering, extortion, tax invasion, bribery 10 years prison
Michael J. Matthews Atlantic City, NJ (39,500) Bribery 15 years prison
Edward McIntyre Augusta, GA (194,300) Extortion Prison
Angelo Joseph Errichetti Camden, NJ (77,300) Bribery 3 years prison
William Somers Atlantic City, NJ (39,500) Extortion n/a
Thomas Whelan Jersey City, NJ (254,400) Conspiracy and extortion 15 years prison
Hugh Joseph Addonizio Newark, NJ (277,000) Bribery Prison
The above list is not necessarily inclusive. Please infor us of any other cases of city hall corruption.

Other recent cases of mayors arrested, indicted
and / or convicted for offences while in office:
• Mayor of West New York, NJ, arrested for computer hacking (2012)
• Mayor of Walnut Grove, Mississippi, for witness tampering (2012)
• Mayor of Upland, CA, convicted of accepting bribes (2012)
• Mayor of Nogales, Arizona, charged with bribery, theft and fraud (2012)
• Mayor of Cedarville, Arkansas, convicted of theft (2012)
• Mayor of Vicksburg, Mississippi, convicted of bribery (2013)
• Mayor of Junction City, Kansas, convicted of bribery (2012)
• Mayor of Melissa, Texas, indicted on bribery (2012)
• Mayor of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, arrested for bribery (2012)
• Mayor of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, indicted on bribery and extortion (2014)
• Mayor of St Gabriel, LA, indicted on racketeering (2010)
• Mayor of Ball, LA, convicted of hurricane disaster fraud (2011)
• Mayor of Sweetwater, Florida, convicted of corruption (2014)
• Mayor of South Pittsburg, TN, convicted of running illegal gambling business
• Mayor of Grandview, Missouri, convicted of charity fraud (2014)
• Mayor of Cudahy, CA, pleads guilty to extortion and bribery (2012)
• Mayor of Port Allen, LA, convicted of racketeering (2012)
• Mayor of Kinloch, Missouri, convicted for fraud and embezzlement (2011)
• Mayor of Mandeville, LA, convicted for tax evasion (2010)
• Mayor of Pineville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to vote buying (2009)
• Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY, pleaded guilty to fraud (2010)
• Mayor of Hamilton, NJ, charged with attempted extortion (2012)
• Mayor of New Roads, LA, indicted on racketeering (2010)

*City Mayors used source material supplied by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

City Mayors has instituted a Code of Ethics for city leaders who wish to perform their duties beyond all reproach

Former US mayors convicted of corruption

Ray Nagin, former Mayor of New Orlean, convicted in February 2014

Peter Cammarano, former Mayor of Hoboken (NJ), convicted in 2009

Tony Mack, former Mayor of Trenton, (NJ), convicted in 2014

Kwame Kilpatrick, former Mayor of Detroit, convicted in 2013