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A judge ordered the release of secret agreements Tuesday revealing that Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick settled a police whistle-blower lawsuit for $8.4 million in October in a failed bid to conceal text messages showing that he and his chief of staff lied under oath about their romantic relationship. Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Colombo also ordered the release of a transcript of a deposition the police officers' lawyer gave under oath last Wednesday. During the deposition, lawyer Mike Stefani explained how the secret agreements were reached.

The Free Press sued the city in Wayne County Circuit Court to obtain the confidential agreements, which city lawyers insisted did not exist.

Colombo rejected city arguments that some of the documents are private and exempt from disclosure under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, saying, "Nothing could be further from the truth."

The judge gave the city until 8:30 a.m. Friday to decide whether to appeal his decision. He urged the city to release the documents immediately.


Sharon McPhail, general counsel of the mayor's office, released a statement saying the office disagreed with Colombo's ruling and would immediately appeal.

"The documents in question were never introduced into evidence during the lawsuit or trial, were never part of the evidence the jury considered during the trial and many of the documents have never been in the City's possession," the statement said.

Also Tuesday, the Detroit City Council authorized the city auditor general to investigate the finances and operation of the mayor's office and law department.

The moves came two weeks after the Free Press reported it had obtained nearly 14,000 text messages sent between Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty on her city-issued pager in 2002 and 2003.

The messages showed that Kilpatrick and Beatty lied under oath at the whistle-blower trial in August when they denied that they had been involved romantically. The messages also showed that they tried to fire Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown.

The Free Press report set off a chain of events, including demands for Kilpatrick and Beatty to resign, a perjury investigation by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and a public apology from the mayor. Beatty turned in her resignation last week; it takes effect Friday.

The Free Press first requested the secret agreements in October, shortly after the mayor announced that he had settled lawsuits filed by Brown and former mayoral bodyguards Harold Nelthrope and Walter Harris, who said they were fired or forced to resign after raising questions about the conduct of the mayor's security staff.

The officers said they were forced out to prevent them from learning about the mayor's relationship with Beatty.

Colombo said all of the documents will be made public unless the city wins an appeal.


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