Plea deal near in Detroit mayor perjury case - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Plea deal near in Detroit mayor perjury case

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Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 10:09 pm | Updated: 8:59 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

DETROIT - Prosecutors accusing Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of lying on the witness stand to cover up an extramarital affair said Wednesday that a plea deal is expected soon, a surprise development that appeared likely to cost him his job.

The office of Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said Wednesday that an agreement is expected, first saying it would come that afternoon and later saying it would be Thursday morning.

The Detroit city charter automatically expels any mayor guilty of a felony. Kilpatrick is charged with eight felonies in the perjury case and would have to get them all reduced to misdemeanors — or beat the charges in court — to keep his job.

A member of the mayor's legal team cautioned that talks continued.

"The plea deal has not been consummated. ... They're still working out the finer points," lawyer James Thomas said after spending the day defending Kilpatrick at a separate hearing led by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

"I know jail time has been an issue," Thomas said. "I don't know if it has been agreed to."

The City Council has asked Granholm to use her constitutional authority to expel Kilpatrick for misconduct, saying it was misled when it approved an $8.4 million settlement last year with fired police officers.

Council members say they didn't know the deal carried secret provisions to keep a lid on steamy text messages between Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, who was his chief of staff, on city-issued pagers.

Kilpatrick spokesman Chris Garrett told The Associated Press that a statement from the mayor's office was not expected Wednesday night and that negotiations with prosecutors continue.

A deal to resign would make Granholm's role moot. But the governor's office said it still planned to push ahead with the removal hearing.

The settlement between the city and the mayor in the case of the fired police officers was the product of an "incredible pattern of deception and nondisclosure," council lawyer William Goodman said at the hearing Wednesday.

"The mayor has often expressed his love for the city of Detroit. ... But to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, men often kill the thing they love," he said. "Be assured this city has not been killed yet, but it is gravely wounded, and the mayor must be removed."

In her opening statement, the mayor's attorney, Sharon McPhail, covered much ground, some of it unrelated to the case at hand.

She predicted unnamed council members who want Kilpatrick kicked out are awaiting indictment on "far worse charges." McPhail urged the governor, like Kilpatrick a Democrat, to resist calls to fire the mayor.

"It's too stupid to be plausible" that Kilpatrick came up with a secret pact to cover up embarrassing text messages, McPhail said.

Michigan governors are allowed by the state constitution to remove elected officials for misconduct, but the target never has been the leader of the state's largest city. The last time was in 1982, when Gov. William Milliken let a township official stay in office if he stopped drinking.

Granholm has pared the case to two issues: Did Kilpatrick settle the lawsuits for personal gain because he feared release of the text messages? And did the mayor conceal information from the City Council?

Michael Stefani, an attorney for three former police officers, said Wednesday that he quickly settled lawsuits against the city after he told opposing attorneys that he planned to file text messages in court showing an affair between the mayor and an aide.

Two officers had already won their whistle-blower trial the previous year, but the financial remedy ordered by a jury could have been appealed. Legal fees were unsettled, too.

Two officers had already won their whistle-blower trial the previous month, but the financial remedy ordered by a jury could have been appealed. Legal fees were unsettled, too.

Kilpatrick's lawyer, Sam McCargo, "looked shaken up" when he saw the messages and said he could call the mayor to pursue a "global resolution" with the officers, according to Stefani.

After the Detroit Free Press published the text messages this year, Kilpatrick and Beatty were charged in Wayne County Circuit Court with perjury, conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice.

A sheriff's detective later said Kilpatrick shoved him into another investigator as they were trying to serve a subpoena to the mayor's friend in the perjury case. That resulted in two assault charges against the mayor.

If Kilpatrick is forced from office, City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. would succeed him until a special election is held.

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