Detroit— The city approved up to $5 million worth of contracts this week for firms linked with a media company tied to a bribery scandal involving ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his fraternity brother and the city’s pension funds, The Detroit News has learned.
The firms are connected to newspaper publisher Hiram Jackson and received the contracts even though his company, Real Times Media, was involved in a deal in which a city pension fund allegedly lost $13.3 million — a deal included in a bribery and kickback case pending in federal court. The deal, worth $15.5 million,involved loans to Jackson’s multimedia empire, which includes some ofthe country’s largest black-owned newspapers and the Detroit-based Michigan Chronicle. Real Times is not charged in the indictment, nor are any company officials.
According to federal court records obtained by The News and pension fund meeting minutes, Real Times received the full loan amount after the firm and its unnamed consultant allegedly gave $45,000 to Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. The ex-mayor was found guilty in March of defrauding the group’s donors and spending money on personal expenses.
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has cited several failed pension fund investments as one reason he is considering taking over the pension funds during the city’s historic bankruptcy case. He was unaware of any connection between Real Times and the pension scandal until Tuesday, when the Detroit City Council approved up to $5 million worth of contracts to publish legal notices in the Chronicle and to renovate the newspaper’s headquarters in downtown Detroit, said Orr spokesman Bill Nowling.
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