Santiago Esparza, Detroit News staff writer
Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says he was unfairly treated by the media, prosecution and a judge in a wide-ranging interview published in the current issue of an urban magazine aimed at prison inmates and the hip-hop community.
He also said he plans to still fight for Detroit and work to repair his relationship with city residents in one of the more candid interviews he's given since being imprisoned — even acknowledging some blame.
"The people of Detroit have been through so much. The economy is bad. There are excessive job losses, and they are depressed," Kilpatrick said in the current issue of Don Diva magazine. "Many think one of their favorite sons betrayed them. In a way, I did … but it is not how the media is portraying it to be.
"I want them to understand the truth and understand that I truly apologize to them for letting them down. But I also want them to know that I am not this brazen criminal that they have been led to believe that I am."
Kilpatrick said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy "felt I was too damn happy" and that Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner "was performing for the media every time we were in court."
He also alleges in the 10-page article that local newspaper sales jumped 13 percent when he was on the front page and that he did not get a fair shot from the legal system or the court of public opinion.
But Kilpatrick said he should have been held to a higher standard because he was mayor, but accuses Groner of going too far because he was up for re-election to the bench.
"The judge was hard on me as a political tactic because he was up for re-election," Kilpatrick said in the interview. "He wanted to show the constituents that he would be tough on crimes by using me. My case kept his name in the media."
In 2008, Kilpatrick, who is married, admitted to obstruction of justice and lying during testimony about an affair with his then chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and efforts to cover up the affair. A series of explicit text messages was used as leverage to negotiate a multimillion dollar settlement with two Detroit police officers and a supervisor who were investigating the claims.
Kilpatrick and his attorneys didn't disclose the full nature of the settlement to the City Council when the panel approved the payout.
The texts were leaked to the media, sparking a series of legal battles that resulted in Kilpatrick being jailed. He then was sent to prison in early 2010 for up to five years by Groner for violation of probation connected to his $1 million owed in restitution linked to the settlement. Kilpatrick still owes more than $861,399.80 as of Monday. He is seeking an early release on parole, which could come as soon as late July.
The former mayor chafed at the restitution requirement because he said it made it appear as if he stole something.
"There was not even a hint that I stole something," Kilpatrick said in the interview. "Never, and I've never been charged with anything like that."
Kilpatrick, often called the hip-hop mayor for his penchant for wearing alligator shoes and a large diamond earring, said he regrets not dressing more subdued. But he said that shouldn't be the reason for not giving him enough credit for taking on crime and helping to attract the National Football League Super Bowl and Major League Baseball All-Star game, upgrading the city's recreation offerings and for getting the riverfront redeveloped.
"My main goals were to bring Detroit together and to understand that we were an international city," Kilpatrick said.
Now Kilpatrick is focused on a book — "Surrendered; The Rise, Fall & Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick" — he co-wrote about his experiences, which is due out Aug. 1. Groner recently ruled that profits from the book must be put in an escrow account to help repay what Kilpatrick still owes in restitution.
Worthy's office declined comment. Groner also declined comment.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, numerous friends and former officials from his administration also face federal criminal charges from alleged City Hall corruption that the U.S. Attorney's office has dubbed the "Kilpatrick Enterprise." The former mayor faces charges of racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud and tax evasion. The crimes carry punishments of up to 30 years.
The issue can be ordered at www.dondivamag.com.