February 9, 2008 at 1:00 am

Chronology of $8.4 million settlement

Chronology of $8.4 million settlement

Aug. 20 to Sept. 11, 2007: Jury trial in whistle-blower case filed by former police officers Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit.

The records of text messages from Chief of Staff Christine Beatty's city-issued pager were subpoenaed from Skytel. Judge Michael Callahan ordered those delivered to him alone so that he can determine at trial whether they are relevant evidence.

Both Kilpatrick and Beatty testify under oath there was no intimate relationship between them. They also testify that they did not fire Brown.

Following Beatty's testimony, Brown's attorney, Michael Stefani, requests that Judge Callahan permit him to view the Skytel records, because he believes both Beatty and Kilpatrick have lied under oath.

Stefani is advised that the records cannot be located or were never sent.

Sept. 11: The jury returns a verdict of $6.5 million plus interest to Brown and Nelthrope in the whistle-blower case.

Stefani receives the Skytel records that he has subpoenaed after the trial for use in his motion for attorney fees and opposition to expected motions by the city attacking the verdict.

Oct. 17: Attorneys for the city and Kilpatrick, along with attorneys for Brown, participate in a court-ordered settlement conference regarding Stefani's claim for attorney fees allowed by the whistle-blower act. Attorney Valdemar Washington is the neutral facilitator.

At the end of the session, when it appeared that there would be no resolution to the fee issue, Stefani asks the facilitator to deliver a sealed envelope to attorney Samuel McCargo, who the city hired to represent Kilpatrick in the case.

Two days later, on Oct. 19, the Detroit Free Press delivered a request under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act requesting that the city release all settlement-related documents.

Oct. 29: The City of Detroit Corporation Counsel responds to the FOIA request by saying that "it is our understanding that currently, there is no settlement agreement as parties are working on the details of the agreement."

Nov. 1: A new settlement agreement and general release -- the one ultimately signed by all parties on Dec. 5, is drafted. It says that Stefani is supposed to turn over all "original records and copies" of text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty that were obtained after the completion of the trial. It makes no mention of the quid pro quo of $8.4 million in exchange for silence regarding text messages showing possible perjury by Kilpatrick and Beatty at the whistle-blower trial.

The penalty for violating the agreement is steep: For Stefani, it's nearly $2.7 million and for the officers it's an amount equal to their settlement agreements. Kilpatrick and Beatty sign as individuals, not officials of the city.

Escrow agreements are signed, one effective Oct.17 and one effective Oct. 22, setting forth how the text messages and related incriminating documents will be placed in a Comerica branch and after the City Council approves the settlement and the checks clear, the mayor's "representative" will obtain the second key and retrieve those incriminating records. The City Council approves the settlement. The council is not told why the case has suddenly been settled.

Dec. 5: Stefani signs the confidentiality agreement.