CHICAGO — A Michigan judge sent Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick to jail Thursday after learning that the controversial official violated the conditions of his bond in a perjury case by going to Canada for a business meeting without clearing the trip with the court.
Kilpatrick apologized to 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles for the unauthorized trip he made to nearby Windsor, Canada, and said, "I ran in, I made a presentation . . . and I ran back."
Kilpatrick, a two-term Democrat, told the court Thursday the trip was necessary to save hundreds of city jobs in Detroit and preserve city services. The trip, he said, was part of his effort to erase a $65-million budget deficit by selling the city's half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which connects the U.S. to Canada. The bid had stalled when the City Council rejected the deal late last month.
A stern Giles made it clear his patience had worn out. "If it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six-Pack sitting in the seat, what would I do?" Giles asked. "And that answer is simple."
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy applauded the decision, saying that the judge "treated this defendant as any other defendant would have been treated."
Marcus Reese, a spokesman for Kilpatrick's legal team said: "We respectfully disagree with the judge's decision to choose the most extreme option available to him . . . and regret that this politically charged atmosphere has had such a profound impact on this case."
The ruling, which stunned both critics and allies of the mayor, follows months of the mayor's defiant attitude toward his legal problems, and frequent calls by residents and City Council members for him to leave office.
The mayor and former top aide Christine Beatty testified during a "public whistle-blower" trial last year that they did not have a relationship. But the Detroit Free Press in January released racy snippets from more than 14,000 text messages sent to and from Beatty's city-provided pager in 2002 and 2003. Kilpatrick sent one to Beatty in 2002 that read, "I'm madly in love with you."
Kilpatrick, 38, faces felony charges including perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice. Beatty was charged with seven felonies.
Kilpatrick's travels have come up before. This spring, after Kilpatrick and his wife flew to Dallas for a meeting with church officials, Worthy's office asked the court to add travel restrictions as conditions of the mayor's bond.
A judge ruled that when Kilpatrick needed to travel for city business, he needed to make a phone call to the court and then he was free to travel worldwide.
But last week, Giles revoked that right after an investigator for the Wayne County sheriff testified that he was physically assaulted by the mayor and suffered a fractured hip.
The deputy, Brian White, told the court that when he and his partner tried to serve a subpoena related to the mayor's case to a friend of Kilpatrick's, the mayor shouted profanities at him. He said Kilpatrick then picked him up and threw him into a female investigator with the prosecutor's office.
The mayor's attorneys petitioned Thursday to have Giles' ruling reviewed by Circuit Court Judge Thomas E. Jackson, who is expected to weigh in on the matter this morning.
Kandia Milton, the mayor's chief of staff and recently named deputy mayor, will step in to run the city. A statement from Kilpatrick's office said, "Detroit's government will continue to operate as usual."
Michigan Atty. Gen. Mike Cox is expected to announce today whether his office will file assault charges against the mayor in connection with White's allegations.
And Democratic Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm -- whom members of Detroit's City Council have asked to remove Kilpatrick from office -- announced Thursday that she would hold a Sept. 3 hearing in Detroit on their request.