Detroit mayor agrees to plea deal in text scandal
(CNN) -- Embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty Thursday to charges resulting from a sex scandal and is to resign from office immediately, a prosecutor said.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick attends a bond hearing Tuesday related to his criminal charges.
As past of his plea deal he also agreed not to run for public office during his five-year probation, a prosecutor said.
Kilpatrick has been embroiled in a public scandal since January, when the Detroit Free Press reported he had exchanged romantic text messages with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, indicating the two were involved in an affair.
At a police whistle-blower trial in 2007, the pair, under oath, denied they had an affair.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was hearing testimony Wednesday at the Cadillac Place state office building in Detroit to help her decide whether to remove Kilpatrick from office over the allegations of misconduct.
The mayor and his now-former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, are accused in criminal court of lying about their romantic involvement, under oath, during the summer 2007 whistle-blower trial, which eventually led the city to pay more than $8 million in settlements.
Provocative text messages exchanged between the two were published earlier this year by the Detroit Free Press. Watch Granholm get Wednesday's hearing started »
Peter Hammer, a Wayne State University law professor, testified Wednesday that in addition to a standard agreement not to disclose the amount of damages and escrow, the settlement reached last fall included another agreement on confidentiality.
"The confidentiality agreement is for private purposes," Hammer said. "It commits all parties to not disclose the contents of the text messages."
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He added, "The agreement purports to manage who has access and control to the text messages as of October 17. It's dated the same day as the private contractual settlement. ... So this is a side agreement."
According to the confidentiality agreement, the text messages were to be put "into a safe and secure bank," or deposit box.
The issue became public in January, when the Free Press reported Kilpatrick had exchanged romantic text messages with Beatty, indicating the two were involved in an affair.
Kilpatrick subsequently was charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Beatty was charged with perjury. Both could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The Detroit City Council voted in May to ask Granholm to remove Kilpatrick, accusing him of misleading the council when it approved settlements with two fired police officers -- Deputy Chief Gary Brown and Officer Harold Nelthrope, a mayoral bodyguard.
The two accused Kilpatrick of retaliating against them because of their roles in an internal affairs probe of the mayor's security team -- an investigation that could have exposed the affair. They sued Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit. A Wayne County court ruled in their favor.
Walt Harris, another former mayoral bodyguard, filed his own whistle-blower suit, contending he was punished for supporting Nelthrope's reports of wrongdoing by Kilpatrick and his bodyguards.
The city of Detroit paid $8.4 million to settle the lawsuits, but legal fees have pushed that to at least $9 million.
Council members, who were required to submit evidence supporting their accusations, allege the settlement deal was meant to cover up the steamy text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty.
In opening remarks Wednesday, Granholm said she would consider only two issues: whether Kilpatrick, as mayor, authorized the settlements to further his "personal and private interests," because he feared the text messages would be publicly revealed; and whether he concealed information that council members should have had in reviewing and approving the settlements.
"My responsibility ... is to determine at this hearing whether I am satisfied by sufficient evidence submitted that the respondent has engaged in such conduct," she said. "This is not a criminal trial. This is not a civil trial."
She had filed a court petition that cited a portion of the state constitution allowing the governor to remove an elected official if there is sufficient evidence that the official has been guilty of misconduct.
Kilpatrick had challenged that petition. He said the statute is vague, and accused the governor of bias. A judge Tuesday rejected that challenge, clearing the way for the hearing.