Doug Guthrie and Mike Wilkinson / The Detroit News
Detroit —Kwame Kilpatrick received a tongue-lashing Wednesday from a judge who reprimanded him for hiding his assets from the court and ordered him to pay $319,000 within three months or return to jail.
As the former mayor frowned and winced, Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner lit into Kilpatrick. The judge said Kilpatrick displayed a “general lack of integrity” and called his actions “reprehensible” and “deceitful” for pleading poverty while living the high life in Texas.
“The defendant lives in a million-dollar mansion in an upscale neighborhood. The defendant has secured a six-figure salary. This court finds it incredulous that the defendant would have the audacity to claim being poor,” Groner said, referring to Kilpatrick’s earlier claims that he has just $6 left a month for restitution after paying his bills.
Groner also tightened probation restrictions on Kilpatrick, who pleaded guilty, served 99 days in jail and agreed to repay $1 million for felonies related to the text-message scandal. The former mayor must now report weekly to a Michigan Corrections officer, ask for permission to travel and be subject to monthly scrutiny of his finances.
Outside the court, Kilpatrick refused to answer questions while waiting for a ride from his childhood friend and former aide, DeDan Milton, who was indicted on federal bribery charges just hours earlier. Kilpatrick’s only words: “You all take care of one another and love one another here in Detroit. God bless you.”
But his attorney, Willie Gary, said he’d consider an appeal, adding that Kilpatrick “has attempted all along” to follow the judge’s orders.
Groner’s ruling concluded stop-start hearings that began in October with prosecutors attempting to show that Kilpatrick and his family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while paying $3,000 a month toward restitution rather than the $6,000 ordered.
“Had I known the defendant received large sums of money in those first months after being released from jail, I surely would have ordered that all defendant’s income, annuities, etc., be immediately paid for restitution,” Groner said.
Groner generally agreed with prosecutors, giving Kilpatrick one month to pay $19,500 for gifts to his wife that he failed to report; $36,142 for tapping into the Kilpatrick Civic Fund for moving expenses to Texas and $23,369 for a tax refund. Kilpatrick disclosed none of the money to the court.
Kilpatrick has 90 days to repay $240,000 that four prominent businessmen loaned him when he got out of jail in 2009. And Groner also ordered Kilpatrick to surrender his city pension, which Kilpatrick cashed out in 2008 and is estimated at $52,000.
All told, Kilpatrick will have to come up with more than $370,000 or return to Groner, who made it clear he wouldn’t hesitate to throw the former mayor in jail.
“Although it is the intent of the court to not set defendant up for failure, the court will remind defendant that the failure to meet the terms set forth in the orders of the court will result in a probation violation hearing and will expose defendant to severe sanctions up to and including incarceration,” Groner wrote in a 2 1/2 -page order.
But prosecutors lost in their bid to garnishee Kilpatrick’s $120,000 base salary as a salesman for Covisint, a subsidiary of Compuware, and pre-approve his expenses. Groner didn’t chastise Kilpatrick for cutting his monthly payment in half. His order for payments of 30 percent means Kilpatrick continues to pay $3,000 per month.
Still, prosecutors say they were pleased.
“The judge’s orders were most appropriate and I’ll be surprised if he has any problem coming up with money,” Worthy said.
Her assistants said Groner’s ruling will allow them to hold off on an earlier request for hearings on claims that Kilpatrick violated his probation, which could have sent him to jail.
“We want to collect the money owed to the city of Detroit,” said Assistant Prosecutor Athina Siringas, who added that if Kilpatrick fails to pay up on the 30- and 90- day deadlines, he could face jail.
During the short hearing, Groner said the case isn’t without irony.
If Kilpatrick had never pleaded poverty by filing a motion last year that claimed he only had $6 left a month, the court would have never known about his other assets, Groner said. Once prosecutors began digging into his finances, they discovered Kilpatrick spent $17,000 on plastic surgery for his wife and thousands of dollars on maid services, limousines, take-out food, suits and other luxuries.
Groner said living in luxury “wasn’t a crime,” but noted that Kilpatrick could pay “significantly more” and had “intentionally failed to comply” with orders requiring the release of financial data. Kilpatrick has paid less than $100,000 of the $1 million.
“You plead guilty and you agreed to pay $1 million in restitution. But you have not been responsible in paying it,” Groner said. “You have not been credible in this courtroom and you again have not been honest to the city of Detroit.”
In the hearings that stretched from October to January, Kilpatrick repeatedly professed ignorance about his household finances, saying that was the purview of his wife, Carlita. He said she remained “pissed” at him for having an affair that led to the text-message scandal.
Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felonies after messages surfaced showing he lied about a relationship with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, during a civil trial.
Detroit News Staff Writers Oralandar Brand-Williams and Mark Hicks contributed.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100121/METRO01/1210430/1409/METRO#ixzz0dFCMCSjE