I have to admit, I didn’t think Pros. Kym Worthy was going to do it. But she did. And damn if I ain’t glad. This, my friends, is one fine example of hubris. Take note.
Mike Wilkinson / The Detroit News
DETROIT — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has filed 12 charges against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, accusing the mayor of perjury and both of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office, among other charges in connection with the text-message scandal.
“Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, peoples lives were ruined, the justice system was severely mocked and the public trust trampled on,” Worthy said. “This is as far from being a private matter as one can get.”
The announcement could take the text-message scandal, once relegated to civil court and accusations of privacy and freedom of the press, into a criminal matter that could send the mayor and Beatty to prison. A perjury conviction can bring a prison term of up to 15 years.
The charges alone could only add more pressure to Kilpatrick to step down — something other politicians, business leaders, pastors and the public have suggested for weeks.
Kilpatrick was spotted leaving the city-owned Manoogian Mansion around 10:15 a.m.
Kilpatrick is the first mayor of Detroit to be charged with a crime while in office. Under the city charter, he can only be removed from office if he is convicted of a felony.
Kilpatrick has repeatedly vowed not to resign; Beatty resigned in February and has been looking for work since then.
Worthy’s investigation stemmed from the aftermath of the city’s decision to settle claims made by three former Detroit police officers, two of whom had won a $6.5 million whistle-blower verdict against the city last September after they claimed they were punished for investigating claims against the mayor and his bodyguards.
Former Deputy Chief Gary Brown said he was fired after investigating claims by Harold Nelthrope, an officer who said he feared for his life after he passed on concerns about the mayor’s bodyguards.
After the trial, Mike Stefani, one of the officers’ attorneys, obtained a copy of the text messages sent and received from Beatty’s city-issued SkyTel pager. He had asked for them during the preparation for the trial but did not receive them.
During negotiations over his attorney fees, Stefani told one of Kilpatrick’s city-paid lawyers that he had the messages and was going to tell the trial judge. That information spurred the lawyers to quickly reach a settlement on the case a little over a month after Kilpatrick had vowed to appeal.
As part of that settlement, the officers got a total of $8.4 million and Stefani was required to turn over all copies of the text messages to the mayor’s attorney — and agree never to talk about them.
When the city council approved the settlement, however, it was not told about the text messages or the secret deal meant to hide them from public view.
Then in January, published excerpts of the text messages strongly contradicted Kilpatrick and Beatty’s testimony that they did not have a romantic relationship and did not fire Brown.