Case Against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," March 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff are in big trouble. They are charged with lying under oath about having an affair and about their role in firing a police officer.

OK, so what is alleged? Here it is. The Wayne County prosecutor says they both lied in testimony given in August 2007 as part of a whistle-blower's trial.

Video: Watch Greta's interview

The whistle-blower's lawsuit was brought by two police officers. The two police officers say they were unfairly disciplined because they looked into allegations of misconduct by Kilpatrick and his security detail, specifically for investigating claims that the mayor used a security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.

In testimony for that lawsuit, Kilpatrick and Beatty, the chief of staff, both denied having a sexual or intimate relationship. In October of 2007, the city agreed to a settlement, an $8.4 million to the two police officers and a third former officer.

Then in January of this year The Detroit Free Press newspaper published excerpts from 14,000 text messages that were sent or received from 2002 until 2003 from the chief of staff Beatty's city issued pager, including steamy text messages that imply a sexual relationship and refer to firing a police officer.

An investigation began. And, as you know, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the perjury and misconduct charges against both just yesterday.

Both mayor Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, not where they wanted to be today. Yes, they were in court pleading "not guilty" to charges. They were released on a $75,000 bond. The mayor faces eight felony charges, perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and misconduct in office, while Beatty faces seven. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy joins us live in Detroit. Welcome, Kym.

KYM WORTHY, WAYNE COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening — what is it?

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it is the evening, last time I checked. But I certainly know the feeling.

All right, these charges, they are pretty serious charges. What was the start of this investigation for you? Was it the steamy text messages in The Detroit Free Press?

WORTHY: We found out about it via the article in The Free Press, yes. And then we started an investigation several days later.

VAN SUSTEREN: If I were prosecuting, the first thing I would want to do to make this really an easy case is to offer one of them immunity and give them a complete immunity wash and demand that testimony. Are you going to do that?

WORTHY: Well, who knows what is going to happen? They were just arraigned today, that's very premature. Both lawyers that have appeared on various media outlets indicated that there is no way that is going to happen, that they're going to take this all the way to trial.

You and I both know that could be a typical defense attorney posturing. I don't know. Certainly, if the former chief of staff comes to us and says that she is interested in talking, we will certainly listen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, what is the procedure in Michigan? They had an arraignment today. Is there an indictment, or do you formally charge by criminal complaint in Michigan?

WORTHY: We formally charged by criminal complaint. We have an preliminary examination, and then we proceed by virtue of information.

VAN SUSTEREN: So when is the usual docket in your court? When would you expect his next court appearance would be, and when you expect the trial to occur?

WORTHY: The next try appearance will be June 9. The preliminary examination was set today. And we have a 91-day criminal felony court track here in Wayne County, and that means after the arraignment on the information we expect all cases to be tried within 91 days.

So that is the regular track. Who knows what is going to happen? Preference, of course, is given to in custody(ph) defendants, so we cannot guarantee when a trial is going to be. But I hope it will be within time standards.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are very influential in the Detroit area. I have known your name for a long time, know you for quite a bit and have seen you before. Do you know the mayor?

WORTHY: Of course I know him. We have not worked together very closely. There was no common interest in this case, but, of course, I know him. I live in Detroit. I work here. I certainly know who he is.

VAN SUSTEREN: I was not suggesting conflict of interest. I was more suggesting how difficult it is when you are working in a city and you are a high-ranking official and you are going after another high-ranking official. And, of course, the mayor is pretty high.

WORTHY: It is uncomfortable, tragic, sad. It is sad not only for the city but for the county, the region, and the state. Nobody, least of all me, wanted to be in this position.

But the bottom line is it happened in my jurisdiction. I am going to go forward, we have gone forward. I am going to honor my responsibilities, and we have to make certain that the justice is served no matter who the potential defendants may be.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the criticisms is that it is so rate that a perjury charge comes out of a civil case. It certainly can and is certainly legitimate. If you lie under oath in a civil case and it is material, that is perjury. How do you respond to that criticism, though?

WORTHY: Actually, in Michigan, it does not have to be material. There is no materiality element. But I say it is not OK to lie in a civil case. No one is suggesting that. The statute, the perjury statute here in Michigan does not delineate in the federal statute either.

We have charged perjury in my office in the last 10 years about 45 times, and we have charged at least one perjury in a civil proceeding. It was not even a trial, it was a civil proceeding — I cannot remember exactly what kind right now — and we did charge perjury in that proceeding and it was a civil proceeding.

So we have done it. There is precedent for it. And I am not going to sit and count how many times we have charged felonious criminal behavior as far as perjury is concerned in a civil proceeding, because it doesn't matter. Perjury is perjury.

VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead, I am sorry.

WORTHY: Perjury is perjury, lying is a lying, and it is very, very serious.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kym, thank you very much, and we'll be following it, and I hope you come back.

WORTHY: Thank you very much.

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