Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could face more jail time over probation violation
DETROIT – DETROIT (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, sent to jail and forced to resign over racy text messages that showed he had lied under oath, has presented himself as a changed man since his release last year — someone working to repair his damaged relationship with his family and pay the $1 million in restitution he owes the city.
But his inability — or unwillingness — to tell the truth about his finances could further humble Kilpatrick and lead him back to a cell Tuesday.
Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner will determine Kilpatrick's punishment after ruling last month that the former mayor violated his probation by failing to report all assets and failing to meet other conditions.
State Corrections officials have suggested less than a year in county jail. Defense attorneys want no jail time, saying it will hamper Kilpatrick's ability to pay the money he still owes. But prosecutors say two to five years in state prison would be appropriate.
"The defendant has continued to lie to this court about his ability to pay restitution," Prosecutor Kym Worthy wrote in a 10-page sentencing memorandum submitted to Groner on Monday. "This court cannot reward lies, deceit and fraud with more probation."
Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in 2008 after sexually explicit text messages became public, showing he had lied under oath about an affair with a staff member in a whistle-blowers' lawsuit. He resigned, served 99 days in jail, agreed to give up his law license, repay the city $1 million, and stay out of politics for five years.
After he was released from jail in February 2009, he found a job as a medical software salesman with Dallas-based Covisint. Since then, he has said he is working on his marriage and trying to be a better father to his three sons. He also has been making $3,000 monthly payments to the city of Detroit, saying he hopes to repay everything he owes.
But prosecutors contend he continues to lie — that Kilpatrick could afford to give more and has intentionally hid assets.
Groner agreed, saying Kilpatrick failed to disclose $240,000 in loans from prominent businessmen. He also said Kilpatrick failed to surrender nearly $23,400 in tax refunds and a share of cash gifts from two people.
The judge signaled that some time behind bars was likely when he told Kilpatrick on April 20 to get "your affairs in order."
Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning told The Associated Press he expected Kilpatrick to get jail time, though probably less than what prosecutors requested.
"The former mayor hasn't given the judge much of an alternative," Henning said. "Once the judge found perjury, that was a sign this was going to be treated very seriously. It wasn't an oversight. It wasn't miscommunication. It was a lie."
Defense attorney Michael Alan Schwartz wrote in his filing Monday that sending Kilpatrick to jail would merely inhibit his ability to pay the restitution.
"If the defendant were left to perform his employment functions without having to be taken away from his employment and without being subjected to procedures which interfere with his employment, the full restitution should be able to be paid within the next two years," Schwartz told the judge. "Placing the defendant in jail will be of benefit to no one."
It was not clear what impact jail time would have on Kilpatrick's job at Covisint, a subsidiary of Detroit-based Compuware. Last year, Compuware Chair Peter Karmanos defended Kilpatrick's hiring but warned further trouble could mean termination. He declined to comment Monday.
As of Friday, Kilpatrick had paid $139,223 toward restitution, according to Corrections officials.
Worthy said her office will help the city collect what it is owed.
"A receiver can also be appointed to chase down assets that defendant has hidden from this court," Worthy wrote.
Plans already have been made to hold Kilpatrick in a jail in Hamtramck, an enclave of Detroit, if he's ordered locked up, Wayne County sheriff's spokeswoman Paula Bridges said.