After months of defiantly holding onto his office, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appeared ready to give it up as part of a plea deal with prosecutors in a sex-and-misconduct scandal that has embarrassed the nation's 11th-largest city for months.
The Wayne County prosecutor's office, which has charged Kilpatrick with eight felonies in his perjury case, said the plea would take place during a scheduled docket conference before Circuit Court Judge David Groner on Thursday morning.
And while the mayor's lawyers later insisted that no deal had been struck, Kilpatrick spokesman Chris Garrett confirmed negotiations toward a plea were continuing.
It was "apparent that they are close," Kilpatrick attorney James Thomas said late Wednesday, adding that he was unsure if the deal being negotiated included any jail time for the mayor.
The mayor would automatically be expelled from office if he is convicted of a felony. Kilpatrick also faces assault charges stemming from a confrontation in July.
The announcement of a potential deal by the prosecutor's office interrupted an extraordinary hearing Wednesday in which Gov. Jennifer Granholm is tasked with deciding if Kilpatrick should be removed from office for misconduct for his role in an $8.4 million whistle-blowers' settlement.
The governor's spokeswoman, Liz Boyd, said the removal hearing's second day would resume Thursday, an hour after Kilpatrick's appearance ends in Wayne County Circuit Court. A deal to resign would make Granholm's role moot.
The City Council has asked Granholm to use her constitutional authority to expel Kilpatrick for misconduct, saying it was misled when it approved the settlement last year with fired police officers.
Council members said they didn't know the deal carried secret provisions to keep a lid on steamy text messages between Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, who was his chief of staff, on city-issued pagers.