Detroit Mayor Quits, Faces Jail Sentence After 2 Guilty Pleas

After months of defiantly holding onto his office, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two obstruction of justice charges. He will spend 120 days in jail and five years on probation. Video by AP
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008

CHICAGO, Sept. 4 -- Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick (D) resigned Thursday after admitting that he lied to hide an affair with his chief of staff. After months when Kilpatrick's refusal to step aside paralyzed municipal government, City Council President Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr. prepared to take over.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two felonies and agreed to serve four months in jail, pay $1 million and resign the office that he won twice as one of Michigan's most dynamic young leaders. He also pledged not to run for office for at least five years.

"Yes, I lied under oath," a somber Kilpatrick, 38, told Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner, abandoning the bravado of his early denials and his promise of "full and complete vindication."

But in a televised address later, he vowed to make a triumphant return to politics.

"I know there's another day for me," Kilpatrick said. "I want to tell you, Detroit, that you have set me up for a comeback."

Kilpatrick delivered a campaign-like defense of his record during "the reawakening of our city" and said he is the victim of "many people's pursuit of their own ambitions," singling out Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) by name. "I take full responsibility for my own actions and for the poor judgment that they reflected," Kilpatrick said, in the clearest reference to his failures. "I wish we could turn back the hands of time and tell that young man to make better choices, but we can't."

Kilpatrick's stunning fall became a public spectacle in a city that can little afford the distraction. His guilty plea was broadcast live on a day when Granholm was scheduled to hear a second day of evidence on the city council's demand to remove him.

After Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and said he would resign, Granholm suspended the hearings, calling it a "sad but historic day."

"Commentators and historians, I expect, will use the lessons of these difficult months to teach those young future public servants about the importance of integrity and honor and duty to the public," she said. "When a public official violates that sacred trust, the violation and its consequences affect more than that individual. It affects us all."

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy, who launched an investigation after the Detroit Free Press uncovered e-mails that contradicted the sworn testimony of Kilpatrick and his former lover, Christine Beatty, said it is essential that the former mayor serve jail time and pay restitution to the city.

"You don't just lose your job and walk away," Worthy said.

Kilpatrick also pleaded no contest to a charge of assaulting a police officer. He shoved a sheriff's deputy who was trying to serve a subpoena on one of the mayor's friends.

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