DETROIT - Reuters
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty on Thursday to obstruction of justice in a plea agreement that forces him from office and caps a scandal that had threatened to spill over into the U.S. presidential campaign in a key battleground state.
The guilty plea to two felony charges stems from Kilpatrick's role in the city's $8.4-million settlement of a whistle-blower lawsuit brought by two fired police officers.
Prosecutors alleged he lied in the lawsuit proceedings and to Detroit's city council, which approved the settlement, to conceal text messages that revealed an affair with his former chief of staff.
Under the deal, Kilpatrick will resign from office, spend four months in jail, pay $1 million in restitution to the city, surrender his law license and serve a five-year probation during which he will be barred from running for office.
Kilpatrick, 38 and once a rising star in the Democratic Party, had faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted of felony perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct charges.
He had faced mounting pressure from his own party and civic leaders to step down as his growing legal problems deadlocked city administration and threatened to put the blot of corruption on Democrats in the hotly contested state as the presidential race goes into its final laps. Detroit is a Democratic stronghold in a state considered key by both parties to the Nov. 4 presidential election.
An early backer of Democratic candidate Barack Obama, Kilpatrick has been shunned by the Obama campaign, which this week called for his resignation.