Tuesday, January 29, 2008

God Forbid You Use Taxpayers' $$$ To buy Streetlights, Hire Police Officers etc..

Mayors attorney traveled to SkyTel

Within days of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s surprising settlement of a police whistle-blower lawsuit for $8.4 million last October, one of his attorneys traveled to Mississippi to express concern about any further release of embarrassing text messages, the Free Press has learned.

The attorney, identified by one source as William Mitchell III, met with officials at SkyTel headquarters near Jackson, Miss. Mitchell wanted to know why Kilpatrick’s legal team had not been notified before the damaging messages were released under subpoena to Mike Stefani, the lawyer for three former cops who sued Kilpatrick, sources said. The texts, later obtained by the Free Press, showed that the mayor and chief of staff Christine Beatty lied about having an affair.

A second source with knowledge of the visit said Mitchell asked why the messages had not been erased.

The attorney’s trip to SkyTel sheds new light on when the mayor may have first become concerned that the messages could still pose a threat to him, even after the payout to the cops. Legal experts have told the Free Press that Kilpatrick, a lawyer, could face felony charges and the loss of his law license if it is shown that he committed perjury in court.

Mitchell, primarily a criminal defense attorney, joined the mayor’s legal team after the mayor lost the whistleblower case in September. He has not returned calls, emails or messages left at his office since last week.

SkyTel, which had a contract with the city to supply messaging devices, would not comment Monday, but previously confirmed to the newspaper that it had sent copies of the messages to Michigan after the trial ended Sept. 11.

The sources requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the text messages. Stefani said last week he could not discuss the messages because of a confidentiality agreement, which the Free Press is suing the city to disclose.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is investigating possible criminal charges against the mayor and Beatty.

The Free Press revealed last week that the text messages show the mayor and Beatty lied under oath when they testified that they were not romantically involved. The two also testified they did not fire then-Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown, but their messages show them discussing the decision to “fire” him.

On Friday, Worthy acknowledged that the mayor had called her last Tuesday, before the Free Press revelations, to say he would be neutral in her re-election bid later this year. Worthy said the call was unusual because she has rarely spoken to the mayor since taking office in 2004.

The call raised questions about whether Kilpatrick sought to influence Worthy. They are not political allies. A spokesman for the mayor noted that Kilpatrick called the prosecutor hours before the Free Press first sought to interview him.

But Mitchell’s trip indicates the mayor had been thinking of repercussions from the text messages for months.

Reporters spotted Mitchell at the Manoogian Mansion, the city’s mayoral residence, Sunday and Monday. Kilpatrick, who went into seclusion after the newspaper informed him about its upcoming report, reportedly returned to the mansion Sunday.

Other than the mayor’s brief statement Wednesday night, Kilpatrick and Beatty have not spoken publicly since the Free Press first requested interviews a week ago.

Mitchell, 52, specializes in criminal law, but also works in civil and military law. One of his high-profile cases was representing Ed Martin, the University of Michigan basketball booster whose involvement with some members of the Fab Five team resulted in NCAA sanctions.

Last September, a Wayne County jury awarded Brown $3.6 million and mayoral police bodyguard Harold Nelthrope $2.9 million on their claim that Kilpatrick retaliated against them for investigating possible wrongdoing by members of the mayor’s inner circle.

After initially vowing an appeal, Kilpatrick abruptly agreed Oct. 17 to settle the case, and a second one by another officer, for $8.4 million. Legal costs have brought the overall settlement total to more than $9 million.

The mayor released a statement at the time calling the deal “the correct decision for my family and the entire Detroit community.

“The door is finally closed on the last lingering issue from my first term in office. source

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