DETROIT – Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to up to five years in prison Tuesday for violating the terms of his probation stemming from his conviction for lying under oath about an affair with his chief of staff.
Kilpatrick, 39, asked Judge David Groner to show him compassion during the hearing, but Groner said “that ship has sailed.”
Kilpatrick was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
At issue is $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.
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On Tuesday, he ordered Kilpatrick to serve at least one-and-a-half years in prison, but credited him with 120 days of time served from his original sentence. Kilpatrick is still obligated to pay back the remaining balance of his debt to the city, but to do that he’ll have to find a new job after he’s freed. Shortly after the sentencing, Compuware Corp. said that Kilpatrick has being fired from his job as a medical software salesman for its Dallas-based subsidiary, Covisint.
Groner scolded Kilpatrick for his lack of candor about his finances.
“Your continued attempt to cast yourself as the victim, your lack of forthrightness, your lack of contriteness and lack of humility … clearly rehabilitation has failed,” Groner told Kilpatrick.
During an impassioned plea for the court’s mercy, Kilpatrick outlined the reasons he felt he should be allowed to return to his family in Dallas.
“I want to go home your honor, where I belong,” Kilpatrick told Groner. “I’m not here because of a gun charge, or a drug charge. I’m here because of my confusion over some of the written orders that have been before me.”
Groner listened to Kilpatrick’s statement Tuesday, but appeared unmoved.
“This lack of candor while under oath dangerously approaches the very crime you were under sentence for,” Groner said.
After Groner announced the sentence, a loud, collective gasp rose from many of Kilpatrick’s supporters in the packed courtroom. Kilpatrick appeared shaken.
“I almost teared up when he gave his speech,” said 43-year-old Simona Smith, a courtroom observer who let out a shriek in the courtroom when Groner told Kilpatrick the sentence.
“That was a good speech but it’s hard to believe. He’s lied so much … he’s unbelievable,” she said.
Assistant Prosecutor Athina Siringas said that the former mayor’s plea for mercy was “vintage Kwame Kilpatrick. The reality of the situation is totally different. He accepts no responsibility for his own behavior.”
Defense attorney Michael Alan Schwartz said he was “deeply disappointed” by the sentence and expressed uncertainty about how the city will receive the remaining $860,000 in restitution.
He said Kilpatrick was penalized for not being contrite. He didn’t wear “sackcloth and ashes,” he said.
Kilpatrick has 42 days in which to file an appeal.
Kilpatrick had testified in a whistle-blower lawsuit that he was not romantically involved with his chief of staff, but text messages between the two later showed he was lying. Before the text message scandal broke, the city paid the two whistle blowers an $8.4 million settlement.
Kilpatrick, a Democrat, resigned, served 99 days in jail, agreed to give up his law license, repay the city $1 million, and stay out of politics for five years.
After he was released from jail in February 2009, Kilpatrick got his job at Covisint. Since then, he has said he is working on his marriage and trying to be a better father to his three young sons. He also has been making $3,000 monthly payments to the city of Detroit, saying he hopes to repay everything he owes.
Prosecutors contend Kilpatrick continued to lie after he was released from jail the first time — that he could afford to give more and has intentionally hid assets.
Groner agreed, saying Kilpatrick failed to disclose $240,000 in loans from prominent businessmen. He also said Kilpatrick failed to surrender nearly $23,400 in tax refunds and a share of cash gifts from two people.
Detroit-based Compuware said in a statement Tuesday that it “didn’t have any” choice but to fire Kilpatrick. He will be off the company’s payroll at the end of the month.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, and we feel bad for his family, but our hands are tied,” the company said.