"We just had a hunch there was something going on here," Free Press executive editor Paul Anger said. "The city is going to appeal and then they settle suddenly. What are the documents in question here? Well, what happened was, we know now, the city gave us a sanitized version of the settlement agreement they had drawn up that was for public consumption. The true settlement was conditioned on locking the mayor and Beatty's text messages far from public view."
This settlement agreement was made public after the Feb. ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court.
After the Free Press published the damning contents of a few of the text messages, Kilpatrick took a few days off and then, with his wife at his side, apologized to her and the city for "the embarrassment and disappointment" caused by the scandal.
"I want to start tonight by saying to the citizens of this great city: I'm sorry," he said in a televised speech on Jan 30. He did not address the specifics of the scandal, citing "pending legal matters."
Beatty, his former lover and chief of staff, handed in her resignation, but Kilpatrick has vowed to stay in office and has not apologized for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to keep his secrets secret.
With unemployment, foreclosures, and abandoned buildings on the rise in Detroit, Anger and others say the city could do a lot with the $9 million this case has cost the city so far.
"Well, it could knock down more than a thousand abandoned homes that are blights on the city," Anger said. "It could hire several hundred police officers or firefighters. It would do all sorts of things for the city, so that is money that could have definitely been better spent.
"The [romantic] relationship is not the important thing here," he said. "The important thing here is all the broken china for the city of Detroit, and the people who are really forgotten here and the three former cops, the whistle-blower cops who risk their necks to bring this out in front of the public."
For the whistleblowers, though, life-long Detroiters, the victory is bittersweet.
Nelthrope has moved out of Detroit and says he still fears retaliation for coming forward. Brown, who recently bought a home in Florida, intends to return to public life in Detroit.
"I'm going to go back and do what I do best, and that's servicing the citizens of the city of Detroit," he said. "I'm not abandoning the city of Detroit. I'm eagerly awaiting some new leadership so I can get more involved in the city and help it move forward."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.