Kwame Kilpatrick Gets Parole, Will be Released in July

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be released from prison and could be headed for Texas as soon as July 24.

Kilpatrick won parole Friday in a vote by two members of the state’s parole board.

He could be freed from G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson at or near his earliest release date from last year’s 18-month to five-year sentence for violating probation on felony charges stemming from the text-message scandal.

Kilpatrick requested a transfer of supervision of his two-year parole to Texas, where he can rejoin his wife and sons in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie.

“Mr. Kilpatrick obviously met the guidelines, and I am not surprised the parole board made the right decision,” said Daniel Hajji, Kilpatrick’s lawyer on issues related to the text message charges. “He’s going to go back to be with the people he loves and who love him best: his wife and children.”

The decision wasn’t a shock — Kilpatrick was a nonviolent offender and had a 74 percent chance of winning parole, a state official said in May, when he was interviewed by a parole board member.

Kilpatrick might initially be released to an address in Metro Detroit if a transfer of his parole to Texas authorities isn’t immediately arranged, said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan.

Kilpatrick was sent to prison in March 2010 by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner, who determined the former mayor violated terms of his probation by hiding personal finances from the court.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who pursued perjury charges against Kilpatrick for lies told during a 2007 police whistle-blower lawsuit trial, opposed the parole bid. She declined comment Friday.

Apparently, the parole board was unaffected by comments Kilpatrick has made in court and selected media interviews that included several digs at prosecutors and Groner.

In a wide-ranging interview in the current issue of Don Diva, a magazine for prison inmates and the hip-hop community, Kilpatrick said he was unfairly treated.

In the article, Kilpatrick said Worthy “felt I was too damn happy” and Groner “was performing for the media every time we were in court.”

The interview quoted Kilpatrick as saying he should have been held to a higher standard because he was mayor, but he accused Groner of going too far.

“The judge was hard on me as a political tactic because he was up for re-election,” Kilpatrick said, adding that he still plans to fight for Detroit and repair his relationship with residents.

“The people of Detroit have been through so much,” the magazine quoted Kilpatrick as saying. “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.”

The interview is the latest of several he has granted to help promote a “tell-all” book, “Surrendered: The Rise, Fall & Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick,” co-written from behind bars with the husband of one of his cousins.

Groner recently ruled that income from the book, set for an Aug. 1 release, be placed in escrow to assure payments will be made toward restitution before Kilpatrick receives any profit.

Parole conditions

Kilpatrick avoided trial on felony charges by accepting a plea-bargain offered in 2008 by Worthy that required him to plead guilty to obstruction of justice and assault on a police officer.

He agreed to resign as mayor, serve 99 days in the Wayne County Jail, surrender his law license and not seek elected office for at least five years. He also agreed to pay $1 million restitution to the city of Detroit. He still owes more than $861,000.

Terms of Kilpatrick’s parole require him to report for two years on a regular basis to a parole supervisor in Michigan or Texas, and make regularly scheduled payments toward his restitution, Marlan said.

“He must obey all court orders and pay his restitution in monthly installments to be established by his parole officer. If he misses two consecutive payments, he would have to sign a wage assignment with whoever may be his employer,” Marlan said. “He must also make earnest effort to find and maintain employment.”

Other conditions of his release are standard for parolees, including violating no laws, not engaging in abusive or threatening behavior, possessing no controlled substances or firearms, and associating with no one he knows has been convicted of felony crimes or to be engaged in current criminal activity.

His parole officer also has the option to impose drug and alcohol testing.

Charges looming

But parole doesn’t mean the former mayor’s troubles are over.

Kilpatrick was indicted in December with his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, close friend and city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Victor Mercado and former aide and close friend Derrick Miller on federal charges that claim they ran a criminal enterprise that took millions of taxpayer dollars and instilled a culture of corruption in one of the nation’s poorest cities.

The charges of racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud and tax evasion portray Kilpatrick’s entire career in public service — from the state House in Lansing to City Hall — as a racketeering conspiracy. They are punishable by three to 30 years in prison.

Kilpatrick is free on those charges on an unsecured bond, which means he wasn’t required to pay money in advance but assured authorities he would show up at hearings and for trial.

Kilpatrick won’t be required to attend a 2 p.m. pretrial conference Monday on his charges in federal court.