Former Detroit mayor's aide pleads guilty

December 1, 2008 5:50:35 PM PST
Stoic and publicly silent through months of a sex scandal, the woman whose relationship with former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick led to his downfall fought tears Monday as she pleaded guilty and admitted to lying under oath. Christine Beatty, former chief of staff to Kilpatrick, accepted a four-month jail sentence in exchange for admitting to obstruction of justice charges for her actions in a lawsuit brought by two police officers. The officers claimed Kilpatrick retaliated against them when they suspected wrongdoing by members of his inner circle.

Sexually explicit text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty, published in January by the Detroit Free Press, contradicted witness-stand denials they were having an affair. Both were married at the time.

"I lied under oath," Beatty told the judge, echoing the words Kilpatrick used during his own guilty plea in September.

"I did so with the intent to mislead the court and jury and to impede and obstruct the fair administration of justice," she said in pleading guilty to two felonies.

Beatty, 38, initially was unable to choke back tears. Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny gave her a moment to compose herself.

Beatty's jail sentence will begin Jan. 5. With credit for good behavior, she could be free in 100 days.

Beatty, the mother of two young daughters who has since gotten divorced, had vigorously fought her case until Monday.

"It was time to get it over with, get on with her life, get it out of her children's lives," defense lawyer Mayer Morganroth said outside court. "Otherwise it goes on and on."

Later Monday, Beatty told reporters that she decided to end her "ordeal" to spare her children from a long trial and possible prison sentence.

"I am extremely sorry to all the people that were harmed," including the Kilpatrick family, she said. She declined to take questions.

"We live in an age where greed and protecting one's secrets is glorified and accepted. I am very pleased that this defendant admitted her guilt," county Prosecutor Kym Worthy said later.

Beatty was charged with perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice for her testimony before and during a 2007 civil trial in Wayne County.

Kilpatrick, 38, pleaded guilty three months ago, resigned from office and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

In the lawsuit, Officers Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope claimed their police careers suffered when Kilpatrick learned they suspected misconduct by his security unit. Among the allegations: Police bodyguards helped cover up Kilpatrick's extramarital affairs.

A jury ruled last year in favor of Brown and Nelthrope.

Kilpatrick settled that case and another one for $8.4 million when he learned that a lawyer for the former officers had obtained the mayor's text messages.

City Council members said they didn't know the deal carried secret provisions to keep a lid on messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty. Then the Free Press published some excepts earlier this year.

Kilpatrick was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the city and surrender his law license. Beatty must pay $100,000 and cannot attend law school while on probation.

Under state sentencing guidelines, she likely faced 19 months or more in prison if she had been convicted of all seven charges, according to Worthy's staff.


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