DETROIT (AP) - The former head of Detroit's water department has pleaded guilty, six weeks into a corruption trial that also involves ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Victor Mercado's surprise guilty plea to conspiracy occurred Monday. The trial is in recess until next week because of a lawyer's illness.
Mercado was accused of conspiring to rig contracts that benefited Kilpatrick and the former mayor's pal, Bobby Ferguson, whose construction company got millions of dollars of work from the water department.
The trial, which started Sept. 21, has been dominated by testimony about payoffs and fraud involving Kilpatrick and Ferguson as far back as 2000.
Kilpatrick's father, Bernard, is also a defendant. Kilpatrick resigned as Detroit mayor in 2008 before he was sent to jail in another scandal.
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