Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appeared in court today before Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner and pleaded guilty to two felony counts, ending a months long soap opera that has paralyzed the Motor City. The 38 year-old mayor, once a rising star in Democratic Party politics, must surrender his office in two weeks, serve four months in jail, pay $1 million in restitution to the city, and face five years probation. Kilpatrick must also surrender his state pension and his law license. He is not allowed to hold office during his probation period. It is a stunning blow to Kilpatrick, the son of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, who represents part of Detroit in Michigan's 13th Congressional district.
Kilpatrick's troubles stem from a relationship with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, who also faces charges, as the mayor did, for lying under oath. The perjury charge was related to a police whistle blower case in which, under oath, Kilpatrick gave misleading testimony over whether he was going to fire a deputy police chief investigating allegations of wrongdoing within the mayor's inner circle. That lawsuit ultimately cost the city of Detroit $8.4 million as part of a settlement wih three former Detroit police officers. The mayor was charged with eight felony counts, including obstruction of justice and perjury. In addition, he faced a single count of felonious assault related to his shoving a sheriff's deputy who tried to serve one of the mayor's friends a subpoena. He pleaded no-contest to the felony assault charge.
The relationship between Mayor Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty became public when the Detroit Free Press got hold of steamy text messages between the mayor and Ms. Beatty. Despite the very public denials of wrongdoing by Kilpatrick over the last several months, it became very evident that he was losing his grip on the city as the Detroit City Council had taken preliminary steps to try to remove him from office. He also faced a very determined Wayne County Prosecutor, Kym Worthy, who was initially derided by the mayor but remained steadfast in her insistence that Kilpatrick would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
With is wife Carlita Kilpatrick in the court room, the mayor calmly stood before the judge and acknowledged his understanding of the plea agreement; at times even managing to smile and laugh. Beatty's hearing was put off as her lawyers and the prosecutor are working on a plea agreement. A court date has been set for later this month on the charges against the former chief of staff.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm cancelled removal proceedings against Mayor Kilpatrick that had begun the day before. She issued a statement from her office wishing Mayor Kilpatrick and his family well, and expressing relief that the eight month ordeal was finally over.
Story was updated 9:15 pm on Thursday, September 4..