WXYZ (DETROIT) - After Kwame Kilpatrick left office, he packed up the family and headed for Grand Prairie, Texas.
"You know, throughout the turmoil in 2008, not just in the city but me and my wife, we wanted to find a place to heal," Kilpatrick told 7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis in a recent exclusive interview.
Kilpatrick said he decided on the Lone Star State after he and his wife sought counseling from Texas preacher TD Jakes.
"Texas is a place where a lot of people come for a new start, and so did we," Kilpatrick said.
The Kilpatrick’s got a new start, and some privacy. Kwame Kilpatrick can't walk a block in Detroit without a handshake or a shout-out from someone who still supports the former mayor, and by his own admission, there are many in Metro Detroit who despise him.
But when Investigator Scott Lewis traveled to the Kilpatrick’s new home, Grand Prairie Texas, he discovered few people are familiar with the famous Ex-Detroiter in their midst.
"His name is Kwame Kilpatrick, ever heard of him?” Lewis asked Grand Prairie resident Letty Sanchez.
“Never heard of him," Sanchez replied.
"Could you take a wild guess what made him famous in Detroit?” Lewis asked resident Dennis King.
“Baseball?” King guessed.
Asked what Kilpatrick was known for in Detroit, Grand Prairie resident Darren Williard simply replied with a Texas drawl, "Shoot, I don't know”.
Lewis talked with the Texans in the lower-income center of town, outside a Mexican restaurant where locals flock to get the Tuesday special; five tacos for five bucks
Kilpatrick's side of town, on the outer fringes of Grand Prairie, is a much different area; a section of town where new subdivisions have popped up like desert wildflowers after a spring rain. The streets are lined with fashionable homes made of brick and stone and the area boasts several sprawling new schools.
Some sections are a bit hoity-toity, and that has caused some controversey for Kilpatrick.
When the former mayor was serving prison time in Michigan, his wife and kids lived in a somewhat modest home in Grand Prairie. But after his release, the family moved into a five-thousand square foot house, paying $2,600 a month in rent. At the time Kilpatrick was paying nearly twice as much for cable and internet was he was in restitution to Detroit.
Prosecutor Kym worthy ripped off a letter to the Michigan Department of Corrections accusing Kilpatrick of living a lifestyle that exceeded his reported income. She claimed Kilpatrick was "once again hiding assets". Worthy claimed Kilpatrick was spending $2000 more a month than he was taking in.
"Well, I mean, a full investigation was done on that and it was saying that she was not right."
"It's been wonderful to deal with the State and not the County on that. I think that a lot of times people do things for political reasons around here," Kilpatrick told 7 Action News when asked about Worthy’s complaint letter. After Worthy's protest the state did raise Kilpatrick's restitution payment from $160 a month $500, and he's up to date on payments.
He's also current on his community service, working 16 hours a month here at the Tarrant Area Food bank in Texas.
But some still question how Kilpatrick supports his lifestyle.
Records Kilpatrick provided for the Michigan Department of Corrections last year showed sporadic speaking engagements as his main source of income.
"Are you really making enough money to afford all this? “ 7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis asked Kilpatrick.
“My goodness, you know, I knew Scott had to come with something? You know, we're making enough money to pay the bills Scott. You know, just like every family in America. We work hard. We work hard to make sure that we can do what we need to do for our children and ourselves," Kilpatrick replied.
But does Kilpatrick really need a five thousand square foot house at $2,600 per month? Or could the former mayor cut back his lifestyle a bit and pay more to Detroit taxpayers in restitution.
7 Action News called a realtor in Grand Prairie who gave us a list of four more modest homes in Kilpatrick's neighborhood that are in the same school district.
All of the homes have four bedrooms. The range in size from two to three thousand square feet, and lease for $800 to $1,000 less per month than Kilpatrick's current home. That's money that could be going to restitution if Kilpatrick was willing to trim back his lifestyle.
At the current rate of $500 a month it would take one hundred forty one years to pay off his debt.
And finally, how does Kilpatrick afford two cars?
A 2012 Jeep Cherokee with Michigan Plates Action News spotted in Kilpatrick’s garage is not in his name. The car is registered to the Shrine of The Black Madonna Church in Detroit. That's something the ex-mayor didn’t want to get into.
"What's the arrangement? Are they helping you out with the car?” Lewis asked.
Well, you know, I don't think that's any of, ah, the city's business. Everything that I do everybody knows about.