Friday, June 04, 2010

Was Kilpatrick's Jailing All About the Money?

Christine Beatty and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Was Kilpatrick's Jailing All About the Money?

Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2010, 2:12 am
By: Michael H. Cottman,

Kwame Kilpatrick was right about one thing: It was never about the money.

Kilpatrick, the disgraced former mayor of Detroit, was sentenced last week to 18 months to five years in a state prison for violating his probation because prosecutors said Kilpatrick was hiding financial assets owed to the city.

A Wayne County Circuit Court judge, who had completely run out of patience, threw the book at Kilpatrick.

"You challenged this court's authority," Judge David Groner said. "You attempted to utilize semantics and exploit loopholes. The broader context of this issue is that your family living expenses - including living in a million-dollar home, driving a brand new Escalade and purchasing elective surgery for your wife - you have made it perfectly clear that it's more important to pacify your wife than comply with my orders."

Living large was clearly Kilpatrick’s undoing, and Kym Worthy, the no-nonsense prosecutor who has made Kilpatrick’s case the staple of her career, didn’t let up for a minute.

Worthy has been relentlessly dogging Kilpatrick to repay the city of Detroit $1 million. The payment was part of Kilpatrick’s guilty plea to obstruction of justice in 2008 when sexually explicit text messages became public, proving he had lied under oath about an affair with his former chief of staff.

There’s no doubt Kilpatrick did wrong. He lied to the court. He cheated on his wife. He abandoned his constituents. He ignored his children. For many Detroit residents, just the mention of Kilpatrick’s name brings a range of emotions – folks either like him or hate him. And the hate runs deep.

Did he violate his probation? Yes. Should he be punished? Of course.

But if Worthy really wants the $1 million she says Kilpatrick owes the city of Detroit, then how is Kilpatrick supposed to repay the money while sitting behind bars for a year and a half – or longer? Kilpatrick says he doesn’t have the cash for repayment and worse, after he was sentenced to jail, he immediately lost his job as a medical software salesman where he was earning $120,000 a year.

“If the issue is money, then please let me work,” Kilpatrick said in an interview with before he was sentenced. “My wife and children have suffered enough. Give me an opportunity to work and pay the city back. If it’s not about the money, then what is it about? This is not about probation violation.”

Although Kilpatrick dug a deep hole for himself, it does beg this question: What is Worthy’s end game? And where’s the logic in jailing Kilpatrick if she wants to pick his pocket for every dollar owed the city? Does Worthy really want Kilpatrick to repay the money or does she just want to see him humiliated, broken and confined to a jail cell?

When Kilpatrick is released from jail, perhaps sometime in 2011, there is no guarantee that he’ll find another job quickly – if at all. He'll also still have an outstanding balance of about $850,000, and Worthy, it’s believed, will still want Kilpatrick to pay up.

And if an unemployed and unmarketable Kilpatrick can’t find a job and make the payments, then what? Worthy runs back to the judge who orders Kilpatrick back to jail - again?

Just when does the judicial revolving door end for Detroit’s former hip-hop mayor?

There’s no question that Kilpatrick should be prosecuted for perjury. But he should also be allowed to work and repay the city if, as Worthy claims, it’s truly all about the money.

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