- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - Federal prosecutors are recommending an 18-month prison sentence for the former head of Detroit’s water department who admits rigging contracts while working for then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Victor Mercado returns to federal court next Wednesday. While on trial with Kilpatrick in 2012, Mercado suddenly pleaded guilty to conspiracy. At $240,000 a year, he was among the highest-paid public officials in Michigan, even making more than the governor.

Mercado wasn’t accused of taking bribes. But in a court filing Thursday, prosecutors say he was an “indispensable part” of Kilpatrick’s corruption by ensuring that contractor Bobby Ferguson got millions in city work.

The 62-year-old Mercado hopes to get probation. His lawyers say he was under duress and never profited from Kilpatrick’s crimes.

Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year prison sentence.

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