26 May 2010

Former Detroit Mayor Sentenced to Five Years in Prison


Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced on Tuesday to up to five years in prison for violating the terms of his 2008 probation on convictions for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner said Kilpatrick, 39, attempted to hide assets and misled the court about his finances in relation to $1 million in restitution owed the city of Detroit.

"The terms of your earlier probation no longer apply. That ship has sailed," Groner told Kilpatrick.

"Your continued attempt to cast yourself as the victim, your lack of forthrightness, your lack of contriteness and your lack of humility, only serve to affirm you have not learned your lesson. Clearly rehabilitation has failed," he said.

The sentence was harsher than prosecutors had recommended and drew gasps from Kilpatrick's supporters in court. He was led out of court in handcuffs.

Under his 2008 plea deal, Kilpatrick resigned as Detroit mayor, spent four months in jail, agreed to pay $1 million to the city and surrendered his law license.

He also pleaded guilty to two felony charges stemming from his role in the city's $8.4 million settlement of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two fired police officers.

Kilpatrick lied under oath in that case in order to conceal cell phone text messages detailing an affair with his former chief of staff, according to the charges.

Dubbed the "hip-hop" mayor when he took office in 2002, Kilpatrick was initially defiant in the face of his mounting legal troubles, claiming at times that the charges against him were racially motivated.

After his release from jail in early 2009, Kilpatrick moved to Dallas and has been working for Covisint, a subsidiary of Detroit-based Compuware Corp.

Groner said Kilpatrick had come close to committing perjury again in 2009 when he contested the terms of his probation and claimed that he had net monthly income of only $6. He also concealed a $240,000 loan and a $50,000 gift from Detroit business leaders.

Kilpatrick still owes the city of Detroit about $860,000, which Groner said still had to be paid.

The judge told Kilpatrick he would have to serve a minimum of a year and a half in prison with credit for his earlier four-month jail sentence.

Kilpatrick, once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, had earlier pleaded for mercy from the judge, saying that he had been working to save his marriage after the disclosure of the extra-marital affair.

He said: "I respectfully and humbly ask with everything that's in me to be free, to continue to be on probation, to not have my children be fatherless, to not have my wife be without her husband, who she's forgiven."

Kilpatrick has 45 days to appeal the sentence.

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