Ex-Detroit mayor owes $300K

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

DETROIT (AP) — Kwame Kilpatrick lost his job as Detroit’s mayor and his freedom, in part, for telling lies.

A judge on Wednesday called Kilpatrick deceitful and self-serving while ordering him to come up with more than $300,000 for restitution to the city within 90 days or possibly face a return to jail.

‘‘We are here because you committed perjury,’’ Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner told Kilpatrick. ‘‘You pled guilty and you agreed to pay $1 million in restitution, but you have not been responsible in paying it. You have not been credible in this courtroom and you, again, have not been honest to the city of Detroit.’’

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The ruling is the latest legal setback for the convicted felon and one-time leader of the financially struggling city.

Perjury charges related to a text-messaging sex scandal and 2007 whistle-blowers’ trial led to his 2008 guilty plea to obstruction of justice and no contest plea to assault.

As part of the deal with prosecutors, Kilpatrick resigned and agreed to pay the city $1 million. He also served 99 days in jail.

After his Feb. 3, 2009 release, Kilpatrick was hired as an account executive for Covisint, a Texas subsidiary of Detroit-based Compuware. Groner then set monthly restitution payments at $6,000.

It was Kilpatrick’s desire to pay smaller amounts that prompted prosecutors to delve into his finances. They accused Kilpatrick of hiding assets by moving large sums from bank accounts bearing his name to those under his wife’s name, and wanted Groner to order him to pay a $225,000 lump sum.

‘‘The court finds the defendant’s conduct in this matter reprehensible,’’ the judge said. ‘‘The defendant had not only continued to flout the orders of this court, but has continued his disregard and contempt for the people of the city of Detroit.’’

Groner’s ruling was another victory for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who originally charged Kilpatrick with perjury after text messages revealed he and his then-top aide lied on the stand about a romantic relationship and their roles in the firing of a police official.

‘‘I think the judge’s orders were most appropriate and I’ll be surprised if he has any problem coming up with money,’’ Worthy said in a statement.

He doesn’t have much time.

Within 30 days, Kilpatrick has to pay $19,500, which represents 30 percent of two gifts paid to his wife and their three sons; $36,142 in moving expenses paid by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund; and $23,369 from his tax refund.

He has 90 days to fork over $240,000 in loans from four business executives. Groner also ordered him to continue making monthly payments totaling 30 percent of his income.

Kilpatrick was silent as Groner spoke, shaking his head on occasion.

‘‘I’m just ready to get on and do what I have to do,’’ the 39-year-old ex-mayor told reporters outside the court building.

Kilpatrick did not say how he would come up with the money.

Groner made a decision and ‘‘we have to live with it,’’ said Willie E. Gary, one of Kilpatrick’s attorneys. ‘‘He’s been complying, and he’s going to do everything in his power to continue.’’

Kilpatrick paid $36,000 during the six months after his jail release. But when his base pay at Covisint dropped from $20,000 to $10,000 per month, Kilpatrick began to make $3,000 payments based on 30 percent of his income — something one of his lawyers, Michael Alan Schwartz, argued was part of Groner’s earlier order.

Prosecutors, however, outlined in the restitution case how much money went through various accounts held by Kilpatrick and his wife. The $240,000 in loans from Compuware Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos and three other top business executives also was revealed.

Kilpatrick testified that he signed the loan checks over to his wife, and Schwartz has contended the loans have to be repaid and cannot be considered assets when it comes to restitution.

But prosecutors also detailed lavish spending after Kilpatrick’s time as mayor. They say he and his wife, Carlita, moved into a mansion in an affluent Dallas suburb and drive luxury sport utility vehicles. Bank records show big money was spent at restaurants and golf courses. One $595 payment was made at a Gucci store.

‘‘His arrogance is further apparent in the lifestyle he lives,’’ said Robbya Green-Weir, 53, a former Detroit resident who works as a community relations coordinator for a health care organization. She said the drawn-out case is another drain on the collective energy of the city she loves.

‘‘I think people are tired of the Kwame Kilpatrick stories,’’ she said. ‘‘I think they’d rather hear stories that the legal system took action and they got the job done.’’

Groner on Wednesday also ordered that Kilpatrick’s probation be transferred back to the state of Michigan from Texas. The former mayor must report by phone each Friday, all travel — including work-related — must be preapproved and he must give probation officials documentation that shows how he is paying for his restitution.

Kilpatrick was elected mayor in 2001 and re-elected in 2005.