Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to Resign in Plea Deal
Thursday, September 04, 2008
AP Sept. 2, 2008
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sits in Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner's courtroom during a hearing on the mayor's bond in Detroit.
The Wall Street Journal reports Kilpatrick will resign, plead guilty to two felonies, spend four months in jail and pay the city of Detroit $1 million.
Kilpatrick entered a Detroit courtroom Thursday morning and met with his attorneys in a side room off Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner's courtroom, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Before meeting with attorneys, he told journalists their reports were wrong and they needed to check their sources, the Free Press said.
The Wayne County prosecutor's office, which has charged Kilpatrick with eight felonies in the perjury case, said the plea would take place during a scheduled docket conference before Groner Thursday morning. A hearing late Wednesday afternoon was abruptly canceled.
It was "apparent that they are close," Kilpatrick attorney James Thomas said late Wednesday, adding that he was unsure if the deal being negotiated included any jail time for the mayor.
The announcement of a deal by the prosecutor's office sent reporters rushing from an extraordinary hearing Wednesday in which Gov. Jennifer Granholm is tasked with deciding if Kilpatrick should be removed from office for misconduct for his role in an $8.4 million whistle-blowers' settlement.
The governor's spokeswoman, Liz Boyd, said the removal hearing's second day would resume Thursday, an hour after Kilpatrick's appearance ends in Wayne County Circuit Court. A deal to resign would make Granholm's role moot.
The City Council has asked Granholm to use her constitutional authority to expel Kilpatrick for misconduct, saying it was misled when it approved the settlement last year with fired police officers.
Council members said they didn't know the deal carried secret provisions to keep a lid on steamy text messages between Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, who was his chief of staff, on city-issued pagers.
Those messages, published by the Detroit Free Press in January, contradicted their denials of an extramarital affair when they testified at a trial last year involving the officers. That led Prosecutor Kym Worthy to charge the pair with perjury, conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice.
The mayor would automatically be expelled from office if he is convicted of a felony. Kilpatrick also faces assault charges stemming from a confrontation in July.
Meanwhile, the Michigan attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the mayor on the assault charges, said it has no deal with Kilpatrick to close that case.
"We are ready to proceed to trial," spokesman Rusty Hills said. "These are serious offenses the mayor is charged with that involved officers in the performance of their duty."
News of a possible breakthrough between Kilpatrick and Worthy, after months of political and legal turmoil, overshadowed Granholm's historic hearing on the council's removal request.
Michigan governors are allowed by the state constitution to remove elected officials for misconduct, but the target never has been the leader of the state's largest city. The last time was in 1982, when Gov. William Milliken let a township official stay in office if he stopped drinking.
The mayor's legal team twice failed to persuade courts to stop the hearing Tuesday. Lawyers filed an appeal Wednesday with the Michigan Supreme Court, but there was no response from the justices.
Granholm, a fellow Democrat, has pared the case to two issues: Did Kilpatrick settle the lawsuits for personal gain because he feared release of the text messages? And did the mayor conceal information from the City Council?
A witness, Michael Stefani, an attorney for the three former police officers, said that he quickly settled lawsuits against the city after he told opposing attorneys that he planned to file text messages in court showing an affair between the mayor and Beatty.
Two officers had already won their whistle-blower trial the previous month, but the financial remedy ordered by a jury could have been appealed. Legal fees were unsettled, too.
Kilpatrick's lawyer, Sam McCargo, "looked shaken up" when he saw the messages and said he could call the mayor to pursue a "global resolution" with the officers, according to Stefani.
The assault charges against the mayor stem from a confrontation on his sister's porch. A sheriff's detective says Kilpatrick shoved him into another investigator as they were trying to serve a subpoena to the mayor's friend in the perjury case.
If Kilpatrick is forced from office, City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. would succeed him until a special election is held.
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