Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is sworn in for the plea agreements including resignation on Thursday. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
DETROIT -- In four short words, Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick acknowledged his guilt Thursday morning, admitting he lied during a whistle-blower case brought by two former police officers who claimed they were punished for looking into wrongdoing by the mayor's staff.
"I lied under oath ... with the intent to mislead the court and jury and to impede and obstruct the fair administration of justice," Kilpatrick said after he pleaded guilty to two felonies -- a plea that will require him to spend four months in the Wayne County Jail, resign his office and pay $1 million in restitution.
Kilpatrick also will agree not to seek office during the five years he is on probation and will surrender his state pension to the county. And he will surrender his law license.
"The city of Detroit can now exhale," said Kwame Kenyatta, the City Council member who spearheaded efforts to force Kilpatrick from office. "It will go down in our history as a mayor who fell from grace."
The fallout from the guilty pleas was immediate. Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings announced her resignation as civic and business leaders sought to use the day to put a capstone on a scandal that has weighed upon the city since January.
"The last few months have been an unfortunate time for Detroit and a lot of damage has been done to the region's image," said Richard E. Blouse, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "The business community will work with the new city officials and regional leaders to begin healing the region so we can concentrate all of our energies on moving the economy forward."
The historic court proceeding took just 29 minutes, but followed more than an hour of waiting as attorneys hashed out the final details.
In the end, Kilpatrick, a Democrat, admitted to lying during the whistle-blower case about a relationship with Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff, and whether he knew former officer Gary Brown was investigating the activities of the mayor's staff prior to his firing. Brown and Harold Nelthrope filed the case in 2003.
After a jury found on behalf of the officers and granted them a $6.5 million settlement, attorneys for the mayor and the city negotiated an $8.4 million settlement -- a deal that included a secret pact to hide the damaging text messages that revealed the mayor's lies.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28.
The jail term means the mayor will spend both Christmas and New Year's behind bars; he'll get out just before the NCAA Final Four comes to Detroit, one of several high-profile sporting events the mayor had helped to land during the past seven years.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, Wayne County prosecutors will drop the remaining six charges against Kilpatrick -- including the perjury counts -- and agree to not prosecute him for other issues that might arise from the investigation into the perjury and obstruction of justice case.
But Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the deal is what she had sought "pretty much" from the beginning, although she acknowledged that her office had sought a six-month jail term.
"I made a decision to get the deal done and move the city forward," she said. Making sure Kilpatrick served time and paid the city were essential to her negotiations.
"You have to have some consequences for your actions," she said. "You don't just lose your job."
Kilpatrick has submitted a resignation that will become effective Sept. 18, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. Kilpatrick must pay $20,000 of the restitution when he is sentenced.
Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and Judge David Groner accepted the plea. Kilpatrick also pleaded no contest to an assault charge against him stemming from a confrontation with two investigators on July 24. The other assault charge was dropped.
Kilpatrick's answers during the proceeding were typically short and he appeared calm and even jovial. But then Groner, going through routine language regarding a plea bargain, asked Kilpatrick if he was giving up his right to be innocent until proven guilty.
"I think I gave up that right a long time ago," Kilpatrick said.
Worthy said she took the case because she had a duty to make sure such behavior is punished.
"We cannot tolerate -- in any form -- corruption in this town," Worthy said. When asked why she demanded the $1 million in restitution, she said, "well, this city was purged of $8.4 million," a reference to the settlement.
Kilpatrick admitted he lied during a 2004 deposition in the case and again at trial last August.
In court, he was joined by his wife, Carlita, who took notes in a day planner that reads "Teach" and quotes from the Book of Job: "Let us learn together what is good."
Just before the mayor pleaded, Beatty, his co-defendant, did not enter a plea. Instead, her case was continued a week to allow for prosecutors and her attorneys to strike a likely deal.
City of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick arrives in the back alley of the ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Kilpatrick's wife, Carlita, leaves the courtroom after plea agreement.
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- PDF: Kilpatrick plea deal
- PDF: Kilpatrick letter of resignation
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