Time and again, Kwame Kilpatrick’s exceptional oratory skills rallied Detroit voters to his side despite his frequent troubles as mayor.
But all his swagger and professions of love for family, God and the city failed to sway a judge Tuesday, who sent Kilpatrick to prison for up to five years for violating his probation stemming from his conviction for lying under oath about an affair with his chief of staff.
The former mayor’s rehabilitation “clearly . . . has failed,” Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner said before announcing his sentence.
“Frankly, your continued attempt to cast yourself as the victim, your lack of forthrightness, your lack of contriteness and your lack of humility serve to affirm that you have not learned your lesson,” the judge said.
Brash and arrogant, Kilpatrick was criticized during his first term for improperly using city credit cards to pay pricey restaurant tabs. It was later revealed that his wife used a city-leased vehicle for her personal use. Each time, he asked for his constituents’ forgiveness, and he came from behind to win re-election in 2005.
At issue during Tuesday’s hearing was $1 million Kilpatrick was ordered to pay the city after pleading guilty in 2008 to obstruction of justice. Groner ruled last month that Kilpatrick failed to report all of his assets and meet other conditions of his probation.
Before Groner sentenced Kilpatrick to one-and-a-half to five years in prison, including 120 days for time served, the former mayor was allowed one more chance to plead for leniency.
Dressed in a dark, custom-fit suit, Kilpatrick stood, paused several moments then cleared his throat as the courtroom packed with the news media, supporters and the curious hushed to listen.
Over the next 15 minutes, Kilpatrick recounted how he fell in love with his wife, Carlita, and later cheated on her; failed as mayor; admitted to the text message scandal, which led to perjury charges and forced him from office; and the 99 days spent in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges that stemmed from the scandal.
Kilpatrick described how, after joining his family in an affluent Dallas suburb, he lavished them with gifts “trying to make everything perfect.” The problem was that the money spent on plastic surgery for his wife, presents and high living should have been used to help pay what he owed Detroit.
To date, about $140,000 has been paid toward restitution since his 2009 release from jail, with $3,000 each month coming from his $120,000 annual salesman salary at Covisint in Dallas.
But on Monday, Covisint’s Detroit-based parent company, Compuware Corp., said it was firing him and that he’d be off the payroll by the end of the month. The company said it “didn’t have any” choice but to fire Kilpatrick.
During restitution hearings, prosecutors revealed that Kilpatrick had funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into his wife’s bank accounts and failed to disclose $240,000 in loans from Compuware Chair Peter Karmanos and other prominent businessmen.
Those claims led Groner to find Kilpatrick guilty of probation violation and to Tuesday’s decision to send him to prison.