After pleading guilty, he'll leave office, serve 120 days in jail, repay $1 million, surrender law license
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has pleaded guilty, ending a nearly eight-month drama that has transfixed the region, paralyzed much of city business and halted a political career that once held such promise.
At 7 p.m., the mayor is expected to speak about his decision in a televised address.
Judy Smith, Kilpatrick's Washington, D.C.-based public relations consultant, said details are still being finalized, but 7 p.m. is the tentative time.
In a courtroom this morning, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstructing justice by committing perjury. He will spend four months in jail, pay up to $1 million in restitution, and serve five years' probation. He also agreed not to run for office during that five-year span.
In addition, the mayor agreed to a no-contest plea to one count of felonious assault for shoving a sheriff's deputy in July who had tried to serve a subpoena on Kilpatrick's friend. He agreed to serve four months on that charge, too, but it will be served at the same time as his other sentence.
The deals also call for Kilpatrick to turn over his state pension to the City of Detroit, which paid $8.4 million to settle two whistle-blower lawsuits three former cops filed against the city. The mayor was charged with eight felony counts ranging from conspiracy to perjury to misconduct in office to obstruction of justice after the Free Press revealed in January that the mayor lied on the witness stand during a police whistle-blower trial and gave misleading testimony about whether he intended to fire a deputy police chief investigating allegations of wrongdoing by members of his inner circle.
In a rushed monotone, before a standing-room only audience, Kilpatrick told Wayne Circuit Judge David Groner: "I lied under oath in the case of Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope versus the city of Detroit ... I did so with the intent to mislead the court and jury, to impede and obstruct the disposition of justice."
Sentencing will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 28 As part of the deal, Kilpatrick has two weeks to vacate the office of mayor.
Moments after Groner praised the lawyers for their work reaching a deal, Kilpatrick summoned his wife, kissed her and went back into a side room.
“Justice has finally been served,” University of Detroit Mercy law professor Larry Dubin said this morning.
“The deal that the mayor agreed to ... is a major victory for the prosecutor, the mayor and the people of the City of Detroit and State of Michigan."
Dubin, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the mayor, praised Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
“For the way she prosecuted this case. She has demonstrated integrity in holding a public official accountable for serious criminal violations that constituted serious breaches of the public trust,” Dubin said.
Kilpatrick’s mother, Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, issued a statement this afternoon. “While my heart is heavy, I support Mayor Kilpatrick’s decision to do what he believes is best for his family, our family, and the citizens of Detroit,” she said. “I would like to thank all those who have encouraged the Mayor and our family with your prayers, cards, and other expressions of support. I ask that you continue to pray for the Mayor and his family and the city of Detroit during this difficult time.”
In the moments before the plea this morning, and before huddling with his attorneys, a smiling Kilpatrick entered the third-floor courtroom in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and jousted with reporters sitting in the first row of the courtroom. He, apparently good-naturedly, told them their reports were wrong and they needed to check their sources. He did not elaborate.
He also shook hands with Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff and ex-lover. Beatty’s lawyers got Groner to delay her separate criminal case for a week while she tries to hammer out her own plea deal.
First Lady Carlita Kilpatrick sat in the audience, a few feet behind her husband, with a stern face throughout the proceedings. It was the first time she had been in a courtroom with Beatty since the scandal started in January.
The mayor had some other familiar faces in the courtroom, including Marc Andre Cunningham, a former aide to Kilpatrick who resigned shortly after the Free Press reported that he had been using a city-issued cell phone that was tapped by the FBI last year in an unrelated investigation.
Kilpatrick’s lawyers and Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran started the day at the Cadillac Place state office building, where they met for about 45 minutes with Gov. Jennifer Granholm. They updated the governor on the plea agreement, and she later cancelled historic removal proceedings that had begun a day earlier and could have resulted in Kilpatrick’s removal from his job.
In January, the Free Press published text messages Kilpatrick and Beatty exchanged on city-issued pagers. The article showed the pair lied under oath when they testified in a police whistle-blower trial last year that they did not have an intimate relationship. They also gave misleading testimony about the firing of a top police official, Gary Brown. Nelthrope was another cop who sued with Brown, both alleging their careers were ruined because of their involvement in an internal affairs investigation that could have led to the discovery of extramarital philandering by Kilpatrick.
Worthy cited the Free Press investigation in March, when he charged Kilpatrick with eight felonies and Beatty with seven. The charges included perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.
Prosecutors and lawyers for Kilpatrick have been mulling a deal for days, the talks intensifying late Wednesday and culminating in this morning’s guilty pleas.