The head of Compuware Corp. defended the hiring of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as an account executive Friday, saying the convicted felon is "uniquely qualified" to sell high-tech services in the health-care field.
But Peter Karmanos said Kilpatrick could be fired depending on the results of an ongoing investigation of corruption during his years at City Hall.
"If he has screwed up more than what's come out he knows he's done," Karmanos told WJR-AM radio host Paul W. Smith. "But I think it's worth a chance. If everything works out we'll have a very talented person. If it doesn't, well, it was a nice try."
Kilpatrick is going to work for Covisint, a Compuware subsidiary, in Dallas, Karmanos said. His family already is renting a home in Southlake, an affluent Dallas suburb.
He served 99 days in jail for obstruction of justice in a civil trial and assault on a pair of Wayne County investigators and still needs court approval to transfer his probation to Texas.
Kilpatrick's lawyers tried to get approval for him to fly to Dallas for job training Friday. But a judge wasn't willing to immediately consider it Thursday and instead set a hearing for Feb. 24.
Karmanos, chairman and chief executive of Compuware, moved company headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2003. In August, he was among business and community leaders who privately urged the county prosecutor to consider a plea deal with Kilpatrick.
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"We've given a lot of people second chances, third chances," Karmanos said of Compuware. "Generally, it's always worked out very well for us."
He acknowledged Kilpatrick has a "very checkered background" but said his "charisma" will be helpful in calling on customers, especially state governments, who want to put health records in electronic form.
It's a "very unique job that he is uniquely qualified for. ... It's a good business decision, and that's it," Karmanos said.
Kilpatrick, a Democrat, resigned in September after nearly seven years as mayor. The FBI and U.S. attorney's office are investigating corruption during his tenure.
Jim Rosendall, a representative of Synagro Technologies of Houston, recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy, saying he paid bribes to city officials to get a contract to handle sludge. The officials were not named but they included a member of the City Council.
In court documents, Rosendall said his gifts included a trip to Las Vegas for "City Official A" to attend a boxing match in 2003.
Kilpatrick's lawyers have declined to comment on whether he is Official A. But city records show his charge account was used in Las Vegas at the same time Rosendall said he hired a plane to fly officials there for the match.
Karmanos said he told Kilpatrick: "If another shoe drops you understand that you're not working here."