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Detroit mayor ordered to prison on felony charges, will resign

September 04, 2008

DETROIT (AP) -- Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges Thursday in a sex scandal and will step down after months of defiantly holding onto his job leading the nation's 11th-largest city. He was ordered jailed for four months and fined $1 million.

The plea deal brings to an end a seven-months-long ordeal that led to felony charges against Kilpatrick and plunged the city, region and state into political chaos.

During a separate hearing moments after Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner accepted the mayor's plea, Kilpatrick offered a no contest plea in an assault case.

The judge also accepted that plea, which called for Kilpatrick to serve a four-month jail sentence that would run at the same time.

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Kilpatrick had faced 10 felony counts in the two separate criminal cases.

When all was said and done Thursday, Kilpatrick got up, motioned to his wife, Carlita, to come forward. They then embraced, and he kissed her forehead.

Groner asked Kilpatrick if the mayor understood he was giving up the right to be innocent until proven guilty.

"I gave that up a long time ago," Kilpatrick replied.

Kilpatrick also read a statement in court and admitted his guilt.

"I lied under oath in the case of Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope versus the city of Detroit, Case No. 03317557NZ, regarding information that was relevant to claims made by Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope. I did so with the intent to mislead the court and jury and to impede and obstruct the administration of justice."

The married mayor and former top aide Christine Beatty were charged in March with perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice. They're accused of lying under oath about an affair and their roles in the firing of a deputy police chief.

Beatty did not plead guilty and next will appear in court on Sept. 11. Groner said a plea deal in Beatty's case appeared likely.

The mayor will be sentenced on Oct. 28.

He has to announce his resignation immediately, and it will become effective in two weeks' time.

City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. will succeed Kilpatrick as mayor until a special election is held.

Until now, Kilpatrick had refused to resign even as the calls for him to step down grew louder and the controversy overshadowed all else at City Hall, tarnishing the national image of the much-maligned city even more.

Meanwhile, at the request of the Detroit City Council, Gov. Jennifer Granholm began a hearing Wednesday to determine whether he should be removed from office for misconduct, a power granted to governors in the Michigan constitution.

The pleas Thursday called into question what would become of the Granholm proceeding.

Liz Boyd, the governor's spokeswoman, said the hearing would convene at noon, at which time Granholm would give a statement.

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