USDC to unseal Tamara Green lawsuit docs

For local conspiracy theorists, Christmas is coming early this year, as U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Rosen said he’s unsealing some of the documents from the Tamara Green case. [Detroit Free Press].

The court will release the transcripts of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, two former police chiefs and other police executives.

Of course, “Christmas” won’t be as sweet as they might expect as several deposition transcripts will remain sealed, including those of former attorney general Mike Cox, who once famously declared the rumored Manoogian Mansion party that allegedly led to Green’s murder to be an urban legend. Others whose transcripts will remain sealed are former Kilpatrick chief-of-staff Christine Beatty, former city law department head Ruth Carter, Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, and two former Kilpatrick bodyguards.

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Kwame’s poverty claims unrealistic, AP says

COREY WILLIAMS,Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) — If ever a public figure should be down for the count, it is Kwame Kilpatrick.

Stripped of his job as Detroit’s mayor, locked in jail for 99 days and saddled with a felony record, he is legally prohibited from seeking the only occupation he ever wanted — elected leader. And his troubles keep coming. He may be called before a judge again for failing to make court-ordered restitution.

But if the 39-year-old Kilpatrick is a ruined man, he doesn’t seem to have noticed. When he returns to Detroit for court appearances, he travels from his rented mansion outside Dallas, where he and his wife drive luxury vehicles and spend money on golf, restaurants, nail treatments and other amenities, according to government prosecutors.

His lawyer’s explanation: For him to earn and pay his debt to society — $1 million in restitution to Detroit — Kilpatrick has to maintain a certain lifestyle to woo clients in his new job as a software salesman.

So far, Kilpatrick has fashioned a remarkable second act in the life of a disgraced official. It demonstrates that the talents that helped make him mayor — charm, a confidence bordering on arrogance, and the ability to inspire loyalty among friends and affluent supporters — haven’t failed him.

"When history records him, he will be considered, in spite of whatever mistakes he made, a great mayor," said community activist Malik Shabazz, who is among the Detroit admirers who stand by him.

The question now is whether Kilpatrick’s rebound could soon be ending. The state Court of Appeals agreed to postpone a court hearing scheduled for Friday, but he still could face arraignment on the charge of violating his probation by missing a $79,011 restitution payment due last week. If the arrest warrant issued Thursday — and then suspended — is eventually served, he could wind up back in a cell overlooking the city he once led.

Kilpatrick often boasted over his 6½-years as mayor that he was from Detroit and the city was in him. He still has a following, despite his ouster in 2008 for lying under oath about an affair with a staff member.

A product of the mostly black, blue collar town, his mother is Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. His father Bernard is a former county commissioner. He shares the politician’s gift for speaking well and being at home in the limelight.

"He’s the center of attention wherever he goes," said Janee Bradford while waxing and trimming a customer’s eyebrows at Clear Salon & Spa in Detroit. She has voted for him and followed his career. "He has presence and confidence," she said.

Years after his tenure as mayor, conversation at the salon still turns to Kilpatrick, she said.

Some of his admirers take delight in the style and resilience he has shown, and see racial overtones in the continuing prosecutions.

"In the street, in the hood it’s called ‘weather, traffic and Kilpatrick,’" Shabazz said. "The only thing I can feel is empathy. Enough is enough. Leave the brother alone and let him finish out his probation."

Shabazz and others believe Kilpatrick’s troubles are steeped in Detroit’s legacy of mistrust between whites and blacks, and blacks and the system.

In their petition to the appeals court for the hearing delay, his lawyers touched on that theme. "The town is divided, with many of the opinion that Mr. Kilpatrick is nothing more than a darker version of Bill Clinton."

Not all supporters are in the neighborhoods. Some are in the top ranks of Detroit’s business community. And they have helped him land on his feet.

Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the Detroit River between the city and Windsor, Ontario, gave Kilpatrick’s wife Carlita and their children a $50,000 gift in late 2008.

Compuware Corp. chief Peter Karmanos and three other businessmen gave Kilpatrick loans totaling $240,000 shortly after his 2009 jail release. Karmanos also arranged Kilpatrick’s job in Dallas as a software salesman for Compuware subsidiary Covisint, where he makes a $120,000 salary. Each was prominent in Detroit city affairs during Kilpatrick’s tenure.

In moving into his new life, Kilpatrick was able to move into a 5,800-square-foot, five-bedroom house in the exclusive Dallas suburb of Southlake that is bigger than Detroit’s official mayoral home.

The same good fortune hasn’t followed the former city aide who was implicated with Kilpatrick in the scandal that cost him the mayor’s position. Christine Beatty and Kilpatrick were both charged with lying under oath about their relationship after sexually explicit text messages contradicted their testimony in a whistle-blowers’ trial months earlier.

Both went to jail. But after her release, the divorced mother of two had trouble finding a job and was unemployed for nearly a year before recently finding work in Georgia.

Recently, Kilpatrick said he was unable to raise enough cash to make this month’s $79,011 payment. Money orders and cashier’s checks totaling nearly $41,000 were given to the court on his behalf.

Kilpatrick’s attorneys insist he can’t afford to dial back his lifestyle so he can make the restitution payments.

In his job, "The clientele he must establish a rapport with are likely to be the privileged and the affluent," said a petition filed late Tuesday. "The deals he must close to fulfill the restitution obligation require considerable time and he is going after sophisticated clients — burgers and beer at the local bar is not going to be sufficient."

Kilpatrick’s allies and detractors and the Detroit legal community are watching the struggle play out.

"Do you put somebody in jail and never get the money, or do you try to work out something? We don’t have debtor’s prison," said University of Detroit-Mercy law professor Peggy Costello.

[Response to Costello from Brian: Yes, but this isn’t about a standard debt. Kilpatrick agreed to repay the city as part of a reduced criminal sentence for a felony. If he doesn’t live up to the terms of the reduced sentence, he absolutely should be forced to serve a felony sentence. Let’s not pretend like he’d be jailed for missing his mortgage payment.]

ADB hearing for another Kilpatrick text-message lawyer

It’s Wilson Copeland’s turn on the Attorney Discipline Board hot seat.

Copeland was one of several attorneys defending the city of Detroit in a whistleblower suit by two cops that lead to an $8.4 million settlement.

The deal was designed to keep private the now very public series of text messages that forced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from office and into a short stint in the slammer.

According to The Detroit News

Hearings already have been completed for Michael Stefani, the lawyer who represented the whistleblower cops, and Samuel McCargo, a private practice lawyer hired by the city to represent then-Mayor Kilpatrick. Hearings for John E. Johnson, former head of the city’s legal department, and his assistant, current Deputy Corporation Counsel Valerie Colbert-Osamuede, have yet to be scheduled. …

The lawyers are accused of striking the secret deal instead of notifying the judge who oversaw the lawsuit that the messages had been obtained after the trial was completed in September of 2007 and jurors found in favor of the police officers.

The five also were accused of criminal wrongdoing for failing to notify authorities that the messages Stefani discovered made them aware of lies Kilpatrick and his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty told on the witness stand to cover up their extra-marital affair. However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has declined to press criminal charges, choosing instead to await the outcome of the attorney grievance process.

In ADB testimony yesterday, Copeland said that he never saw the text messages until The Detroit Free Press published excerpts that established Kilpatrick and Beatty’s perjury.

Stefani misconduct hearing to end today

“Today is expected to mark the conclusion of the professional misconduct hearing for Mike Stefani, the attorney who wrested an $8.4 million settlement from Detroit in the police whistleblower cases,” reports the Detroit Free Press.

“Stefani is accused of breaching his ethical duties by, among other things, violating Callahan’s order by telling a communications company to send copies of damaging text messages involving then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief aide Christine Beatty to Stefani’s office, rather than sending them directly to the judge.”

Stefani may face perjury charges over Kilpatrick messages

Michael Stefani, the lawyer who represented police officers in the whistle-blower lawsuit that exposed former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s lies under oath, may himself face perjury charges, reports The Detroit News.

More from The News:

Stefani admitted Thursday he gave copies of the infamous text messages to the Detroit Free Press, bringing to an abrupt halt the Attorney Discipline Board proceedings against the lawyer who represented the police officers who sued Kilpatrick. The revelation could bring more disciplinary charges against Stefani, who already faces punishment for his role in the scandal.

“His admission provides evidence that he provided false statements in two previous sets of testimony and may require investigation of perjury,” said Robert Edick, a lawyer acting as prosecutor in the state’s ethics case against Stefani.

The hearing already was aimed at deciding whether Stefani should be punished for violating a judge’s orders that the text messages be handed over to the judge first, and whether Stefani was obligated to tell the judge the messages indicated Kilpatrick and his then-chief of staff, Christine Beatty, lied under oath.

Blame it on Kwame

Detroit attorney Sam McCargo was “hung out to dry” by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, according to former State Bar of Michigan President Thomas Cranmer, who testified as a defense witness at McCargo’s hearing before the Attorney Discipline Board last Friday.

Cranmer said, according to a report in The Detroit News, it’s not at all clear whether McCargo violated the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

From The Detroit News:

McCargo has been described as “the architect” of a secret settlement of a police whistle-blower suit that kept under wraps explosive and sexually explicit text messages between Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty.

The settlement, under which the city paid $8.4 million to settle two civil lawsuits brought by three former police officers, was struck on Oct. 17, 2007 — the same day police attorney Michael Stefani showed McCargo a proposed court brief that quoted extensively from steamy text messages. They showed both Kilpatrick and Beatty had lied under oath at the whistle-blower trial. …

McCargo is charged with breaking state ethical rules for attorneys by not telling the judge in the case that Kilpatrick had lied and that Stefani had violated a judge’s order by receiving the text messages directly from the city’s former pager company, SkyTel, instead of through the court.

But Cranmer testified the ethical rules for attorneys in Michigan lack clarity. In trying to interpret them, “you’re left, I think, at sea, oftentimes,” testified Cranmer, a former president of the state bar who has served as a panelist and chairman for the discipline board. “This case is a perfect example of that.”

Cranmer testified that after Stefani advised McCargo about the text messages, McCargo had a duty to discuss the issue with his client and try to investigate further by obtaining the text messages. He said he believes McCargo attempted to do that.

He testified he doesn’t believe McCargo had a duty to go to Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan, who presided over the 2007 whistle-blower trial, because the existence of an affair between Kilpatrick and Beatty was not “material” to the whistle-blower case and McCargo also had a duty to protect Kilpatrick’s secrets.

Testimony concluded Friday. If the ADB decides McCargo violated ethics rules, he would face a variety of potential sanctions, ranging from a reprimand to losing his law license.

Meanwhile, The Detroit Free Press reports that Kilpatrick’s use of nearly $1 million in campaign funds to defend himself against criminal charges could lead to some legislative reform of how campaign cash may be used in Michigan.

From The Freep:

State Sen. Gilda Jacobs, a Huntington Woods Democrat, has asked Attorney General Mike Cox to issue an opinion on whether elected officials can use political donations to pay for legal expenses in a criminal case.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett was the first to seek clarity on the issue when she asked Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land earlier this year to rule whether Kilpatrick’s expenditures were proper.

After studying the issue, Land said state law is unclear and told Garrett to have the ex-mayor seek a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service.

Instead, Garrett said on July 10 that Land’s office did not provide clear guidance and declared in a news release that the “expenses are proper under the campaign finance law.”

If the expenditures were deemed improper, Kilpatrick could have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and taxes.

On Aug. 19, Jacobs turned to Cox.

No word yet from the AG.