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May 2, 2013

Fouts apologizes for profanity in leaked tirades

Mayor says he spoke to police about alleged threats, case given to Macomb prosecutors

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Warren Mayor Jim Fouts stood among men and women of God May 2 to apologize publicly for two profane tirades punctuated by violent statements, recorded by an appointee and turned over to Michigan State Police investigators last month.

Flanked by the city’s religious leaders, elected officials, a marching band and a chorus of schoolchildren assembled under a clear blue sky for the city’s observance of the National Day of Prayer, Fouts told a crowd of hundreds he is “ashamed and embarrassed” by the words he uttered to an unnamed staffer during a pair of phone conversations in early April.

A review of the recordings revealed comments angrily directed at two former city employees, and included a litany of bombastic statements, expletives and violent rants.

At one point in the recording, Fouts said he’d beat one of the former employees with a baseball bat if he saw him on the street. He also spoke about getting a gun and blowing the former employee’s head off.

Virtually all of the comments, recorded during what Fouts thought were private phone conversations with a man who works for him, were interspersed with angry outbursts of profanity, and for that, the mayor publically apologized.

“The National Day of Prayer is when we also ask God’s forgiveness for the mistakes we have made that hurt others. It is owning up to our responsibility as children of God,” Fouts told the crowd. “The mistake I made was using profanity in a phone conversation.

“I say to you that this was inappropriate language that I used. I apologize to the people of Warren, I apologize to you, to everyone in here for the choice of my words. I am truly ashamed and embarrassed about it and my apology goes out to each and every one of you,” Fouts said.

The appointee who recorded the audio, who still had his job at City Hall as of press time May 2, has not been named publically and sources with knowledge of the recordings spoke only on the condition of anonymity, at least for now.

But the sources said the appointee claimed he was concerned by the violent nature of the mayor’s comments. That’s reportedly why he recorded the audio and provided it to Michigan State Police investigators for review last month.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw, public information officer for the MSP’s Second District, confirmed that investigators had interviewed both the mayor and the complaining witness and that they turned their findings over to Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith’s office May 1.

Shaw said Michigan State Police detectives made no recommendations regarding the investigation as it pertained to potential criminal charges.

“We don’t make recommendations. We’re finders of fact,” Shaw said. “It’s kind of up to them now. It’s out of my hands.”

Shaw did say Fouts was “very cooperative” with the investigation.

The mayor previously said he would make himself available to investigators and would answer any questions they had for him.

It remained unclear May 2 what Macomb prosecutors would do with the findings of the Michigan State Police investigation.

Smith was out of the office May 2 and a message left for him was not immediately returned.

While several people in attendance at the National Day of Prayer declined to go on the record regarding Fouts’ comments and his public apology, others said they felt it was the right thing to do.

“I was surprised that he did it today, but happy that he did,” said Gerald Stein, 72, of Warren. “I think he’s a good mayor. I think he’s done a lot for Warren. He’s done a lot for Christians, too.”

Gerald’s wife, Cecilia Stein, said she was also surprised by the mayor’s recorded comments, but that Fouts handled the apology appropriately.

“I thought he did a great job,” said Cecilia Stein, 81. “We all make mistakes.”

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You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.