Former Detroit Mayor Sues Over Leak of Racy Emails to Press

By: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a lawyer who leaked racy text messages to the Detroit Free Press and kicked off a scandal that brought down Kilpatrick's administration and sent him to jail.

The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, cites recent testimony by attorney Mike Stefani before a disciplinary board that he leaked the messages to the newspaper.

The suit says Stefani violated a confidentiality agreement requiring him to turn over all copies of the explosive messages in exchange for settling police whistle-blower lawsuits involving three ex-Detroit officers he represented.

James Thomas, Kilpatrick's attorney, told the Detroit Free Press that any damages would go to the city of Detroit. The lawsuit seeks $2.666 million in damages.

Kilpatrick was into the middle of his second term as mayor when the sexually explicit text messages with his then-Chief of Staff Christine Beatty were published by the newspaper.

The messages from Beatty's city-issued pager contradicted testimony that she and the married mayor gave during a 2007 whistle-blowers' trial when they denied having a romantic relationship. The messages also indicated they lied about their roles in the firing of a police official.

Kilpatrick, who moved to Texas after leaving jail, has returned to the city for a Thursday hearing on how much he will owe in monthly restitution payments to the city.

He stepped down after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and no contest to assault. He admitted he lied during a civil trial to cover up an affair with Beatty. Both served jail time.

Kilpatrick was ordered to repay Detroit $1 million as part of a plea last year in two criminal cases. A judge ordered that he make monthly restitution payments of $6,000 after getting a sales job in Dallas. His attorney argues those payments should be reduced to $3,000 since Kilpatrick now earns less.

Stefani testified this summer that he didn't know how the Free Press got the messages. But he revealed at another hearing Oct. 8 that he gave the newspaper a copy of text messages between Kilpatrick and his top aide for "safekeeping." There was no answer late Wednesday afternoon at Stefani's Royal Oak office.


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