- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

DETROIT | Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned Thursday, striking a deal with prosecutors and admitting that he lied under oath in a police whistleblower case and scandal that has stymied the Motor City for seven months.

Under the deal, struck with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction and no contest to a felony charge of assault.

“I lied under oath,” Kilpatrick said in court. “I did so with an intent to mislead the court and jury and to impede and obstruct the fair administration of justice.”

He will resign his post, spend four months in jail and pay $1 million during his five-year probation period. The deal brings to a close a grim chapter in city political history and the sad downfall of a promising black political star who is the son of six-term Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Democrat who represents the 13th District.

“While my heart is heavy, I support Mayor Kilpatrick´s decision to do what he believes is best for his family, our family and the citizens of Detroit,” Mrs. Kilpatrick said. “I ask that you continue to pray for the mayor and his family and the city of Detroit during this difficult time.”

The situation has affected Mrs. Kilpatrick, who narrowly won the local primary in August by 1,700 votes in a showdown with former state Rep. Mary Waters and state Sen. Martha Scotts. During the congresswoman’s campaign, workers handed out brochures to voters at polling precincts that read: “The ‘alleged’ sins of the son should not be visited upon the mother.”

In the November general election, Mrs. Kilpatrick will face Republican rival Edward Gubics.

Her son faced his own showdown. During a separate hearing moments after Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner accepted the mayor’s plea, Kilpatrick offered a no-contest plea in an assault case.

The judge also accepted that plea, which called for Kilpatrick to serve a four-month jail sentence that would run at the same time. Kilpatrick had faced 10 felony counts in the two separate criminal cases.

Kilpatrick, 38, and the married father of three, will lose his law license and may not seek public office during his probation term. The remaining charges against him will be dropped. He will step down as mayor within two weeks and be sentenced Oct. 28.

City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. will take over as mayor until an election can be held.

Mr. Groner asked Kilpatrick whether he understood that he was giving up the right to be innocent until proved guilty.

“I gave that up a long time ago,” Kilpatrick replied.

The mayor and former top aide Christine Beatty were charged in March with perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice. They are accused of lying under oath about an affair and their roles in the firing of a deputy police chief.

Mrs. Beatty did not plead guilty and next will appear in court on Thursday. Mr. Groner said a plea deal in Mrs. Beatty’s case appeared likely.

Until now, Kilpatrick had refused to resign, even as the calls for him to step down grew louder and the controversy overshadowed all else at City Hall, tarnishing the national image of the much-maligned city even more.

“Today, this sad but historic story is coming to an end,” Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, told attorneys on both sides of the removal hearings at Cadillac Place in Detroit. “It is very important for us as a state and as a city to turn this page together.”

Kilpatrick became the youngest mayor in city history when he was elected in 2001 at age 31.

His first term was marked by political immaturity and fiscal irresponsibility. He racked up thousands of dollars in travel on his city-issued credit card and the city’s lease of a luxury Lincoln Navigator for his wife, Carlita.

Less than a year into the first term, rumors surfaced of a wild party involving strippers and members of Kilpatrick’s security team at the mayor’s mansion. Former Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown filed a lawsuit in 2003, claiming he was fired for investigating the situation.

During the 2007 trial, Kilpatrick and Mrs. Beatty sat in the witness chair and denied having a romantic relationship from 2002 to 2003.

In January, the Detroit Free Press published sexually explicit text messages recovered from Mrs. Beatty’s city-issued pager that contradicted their courtroom denials. He and Mrs. Beatty were charged with perjury and other felonies.

cThis story is based in part on wire service reports.

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