Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) - Kwame Kilpatrick says he does not believe he’s broken any rules and has followed the conditions of his parole to a T. In an exclusive interview this week with WWJ Newsradio 950′s Vickie Thomas, the embattled former Detroit mayor said he’s become “a much better person after all this has happened than before.”
Kilpatrick is currently on a GPS tether, confined to his mother’s Detroit home as the Michigan Department of Corrections investigates what a spokesman said could be a possible parole violation. Kilpatrick, in December, was caught on camera at a Macomb County Walmart store counting out $2,000 in cash, which officials say he failed to report.
Kilpatrick said he doesn’t regret the failure to report it.
“No,” he responded when Thomas asked if he regretted it, adding, “All of that is left to investigation, I don’t believe that I broke any rules … Right clear through to that moment, I didn’t have any problems.”
Kilpatrick has been in hot water several times for failing to pay his court-ordered restitution on time, but he contends that, other than once making his restitution payment a couple of days late, he’s been an exemplary parolee.
“I’m hopeful that my parole officer will see that. I’m hopeful that it’s a fair and just investigation. I’m cooperating however I can, and I’m hopeful and prayerful that I can get back to my sons and my wife as soon as possible,” he said.
Listen to the full interview:
Kilpatrick told Thomas it’s been tough being away from his wife and three sons, who now live in Texas, but he’s been candid with his family about what’s been going on.
“I told them that I was under some form of house arrest in the city and I can’t leave,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m very up front with my sons. After you’ve gone though what they’ve gone through over the past five years, one thing that this situation has helped is the honesty in our family.
“That’s one of the thing’s that’s happened through this process that has been good — my sons have really matured through it and we’ve gotten a lot closer, you know, as they become young men. I just hate not being there,” he said.
Kilpatrick still owes Detroit more than $800,000 in restitution from a 2008 plea in a criminal case. He lost his job and served state prison time for lying on the state about his affair with an aide.
Kilpatrick initially called the money gram issue a “trivial” matter, but later changed his tune, telling Thomas he realized that it’s “a huge deal.”
“This is big, you know, and I had no idea that I would be facing … even the chance of losing my freedom over this incident,” Kilpatrick said.
Meantime, the ex-mayor remains on trial in Detroit federal court in a separate case, charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and a racketeering conspiracy.
“I don’t want this to affect my federal trial. You know, I’m facing spending the rest of my life in prison. There’s so much media and so much hype around Kwame Kilpatrick, and all I’m trying to do is go home,” Kilpatrick said.
He added: ”People often have a misguided view of Kwame Kilpatrick, but that’s neither here nor there, I would simply say whatever. I don’t know of another parolee that’s as much in the spotlight as me,” he said, adding, “I’m hopeful and prayerful that in the end the truth will make me free.”
He refused to answer Thomas’ question about why he would go to suburban Chesterfield Township, a rural area in Macomb County about an hour away from Detroit, to accept the $2,000 money order, saying it was part of the investigation.
“That kind of negative attitude in the midst of people talking about future Detroit and vibrancy and diversity and gender diversity and age diversity and cultural diversity and ethnic diversity, it just continues to drive this negative wedge in this community and that’s unfortunate,” Kilpatrick said.
He added that he tells his sons that “this is what happens” when you become part of the criminal justice system, saying, “When you’re on parole, you’re in a really big prison called planet Earth.”
On former best friend Derrick Miller, who testified against Kilpatrick in exchange for a lower sentence and said he once saw the mayor accept a $10,000 bribe in a restaurant bathroom, Kilpatrick said this: “We’ve been distant for a long time.”
Miller was an easier witness to watch than he expected, Kilpatrick said, adding “It was less hard than some other witnesses who were up there.”