Politics

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick faced 10 felony charges
Paul Sancya/AP
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
stands during his sentencing hearing in
Detroit, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP)

Kwame Kilpatrick Gets Four-Month Sentence

October 28, 2008 05:31 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 120 days in prison Tuesday, eight weeks after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

Kilpatrick Sentenced to 120 Days

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Wayne Circuit Court Judge David Groner sentenced Kilpatrick on Tuesday to 120 days in prison with no chance of a reduced sentence for good behavior. Groner reprimanded Kilpatrick for his “hubris and privilege,” as Kilpatrick “often shook his head in apparent disagreement,” says The Detroit News. Kilpatrick must also pay the city over $1 million in restitution, sign away his law license and not run for office for five years.

Kilpatrick had pled guilty in September to two of the ten felony obstruction of justice charges he faced. The charges stemmed from a text message scandal involving Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff. Kilpatrick sent over 14,000 romantic texts messages to Beatty, and then used public money to keep the extramarital affair secret.

Kilpatrick will be taken to Wayne County Jail tonight to begin his sentence in a cell segregated from the general population. The 15-by-10 foot cell is larger than the average cell and includes a private bathroom, shower and phone. Kilpatrick will spend 23 hours a day there, with one hour a day for exercise.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday that Kilpatrick’s first jailhouse meal will be a beef pot pie, three-bean salad, dinner roll and strawberry Jell-O with fruit cocktail. Kilpatrick will have a choice between milk and fruit punch.

Background: Kilpatrick's text messaging scandal

Kilpatrick’s felony charges were related to some 14,000 text messages he apparently sent in 2002 and 2003 on a taxpayer-funded phone to his former chief of staff, as well as to allegedly tricking the Detroit City Council in supporting a lawsuit against three fired police officers, only to siphon the $8.4 million in settlement money for private gain.

During the summer of 2007, according to findings from an investigation conducted by the Detroit Free Press, the two of them allegedly lied on the trial stand during a “whistle-blower” trial when talking about the firing of Detroit Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown.

On Jan. 23, the newspaper printed extracts of the text messages, which revealed details suggesting Kilpatrick and Beatty had a sexual relationship, and that they had given false testimony during the trial.

After the story broke, Kilpatrick battled with the paper over a subsequent Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, with the case going up to the state’s Supreme Court. The proceedings revealed confidential information that showed the mayor and his Detroit-funded legal team put together a secret settlement of $8.4 million to hush up the three fired police officers about the text messages. Kilpatrick’s charges related to the scandal included perjury, obstruction of justice, and misconduct in office.

Around the time Kilpatrick’s text-messaging scandal first broke, his wife Carlita appeared at his side out of support. “Yes, I am angry, I am hurt, and I am disappointed. But there is no question I love my husband,” she was quoted as saying in Newsweek.

In mid-March, The Detroit News likened Kilpatrick’s situation to the scandal surrounding former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, suspecting the Detroit mayor, like Spitzer, was soon to resign from his post.

Judge Ronald Giles ruled on Aug. 7 that Kilpatrick had violated the conditions of a bond agreement by traveling to Windsor, Ontario, in July, sending him to jail. Kilpatrick had shown up to court that day expecting to have a preliminary examination waived, paving the way to an expedited trial on the eight charges he was facing related to the text-messaging scandal. Instead, he became the first mayor in Detroit’s 307-year history to become incarcerated while in office.

The following day, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox charged Kilpatrick with two more felony accounts, this time with assault, in connection with his alleged shoving of a police officer.

Mich. Gov. Jennifer Granholm then called a special hearing for Aug. 27, using a scantly used provision in Michigan’s constitution allows the state’s chief elected official to rule on the conduct of municipal officials. The Detroit City Council voted in May to have Granholm execute her power to sack Kilpatrick.

On Sept. 4, Kilpatrick pled guilty to two of the charges against him and resigned as mayor of Detroit. He spoke publicly that evening in a televised speech. “I've always said that you need to stand strong for the City of Detroit...but sometimes standing strong means stepping down,” he said.

Reference: Excerpts of Kilpatrick and Beatty’s text messages

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