CHICAGO - Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick vowed to stay in office and move forward with his bond-funded economic stimulus proposal despite facing felony charges of perjury, misconduct in office, and conspiracy to obstruct justice stemming from testimony during a 2007 civil trial.
Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy yesterday announced a 12-count criminal indictment that included eight counts against Kilpatrick and seven counts against Christine Beatty, Kilpatrick's former chief of staff.
Both Kilpatrick and Beatty were expected to be arraigned late yesterday.
In a press conference yesterday responding to the charges, Kilpatrick appeared with Chicago-based lawyer Daniel Webb, a former U.S. attorney who acted as lead counsel for now-imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan. Kilpatrick said he expects to be completely vindicated by a jury trial.
"I am going to remain focused on moving this city forward," the mayor said, including crafting a balanced budget by April 14 and urging the City Council to pass a series of infrastructure projects financed with a $330 million casino tax-backed revenue bond issue.
"We are prepared to go to the council with our economic stimulus package as soon as they give us time to do that," Kilpatrick said.
The City Council last week passed 7-to-1 a nonbinding resolution asking Kilpatrick to step down, and recently announced plans to launch its own independent investigation into the scandal stemming from a series of text messages.
The felony charges come after a 60-day investigation by the prosecutor's office launched when the Detroit Free Press published dozens of text messages allegedly between Kilpatrick and Beatty, both 37. Those messages seemed to contradict their earlier testimony during a police whistleblower's lawsuit trial last August denying they had a romantic relationship. The messages also contradicted their testimony that they knew nothing of the firing of Detroit deputy police chief Gary Brown.
Brown and two other police officers had filed lawsuits against the city saying they were fired for investigating claims against the mayor and his bodyguards. Detroit last year paid $8.4 million to settle the officers' lawsuits - a settlement that came only after attorneys for one of the officers obtained copies of text messages sent and received from Beatty's city-issued pager. As part of the settlement, the lawyer agreed to give the city all copies of those text messages and never mention them in public.
"Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used unlawfully, people's lives were ruined, the justice system was severely mocked, and the public trust trampled on," Worthy said during a news conference announcing the charges. "How can we look another witness in the eye if we don't follow the law for witnesses who lie under the oath? Even children understand that lying is wrong."
The son of six-term Democratic Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks, Kilpatrick became mayor in 2002 at 31, Detroit's youngest mayor. He has been considered a rising star in the national Democratic Party.