Did businessman give Kwame Kilpatrick bribe money?

Jon Rutherford testifies he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Detroit mayor

Published On: Oct 18 2012 05:50:08 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 18 2012 06:59:04 PM EDT
DETROIT -

Thursday marked a new chapter in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial.

The prosecution turned their focus to extortion and the thousands of dollars that were allegedly exchanged as bribes.

Was Jon Rutherford a generous millionaire who gave gifts to Kilpatrick? Or was the near $500,000 contributions enticement money? That’s the question being posed by the prosecution.

Rutherford declined to comment to the Local 4 Defenders outside the federal courthouse in Detroit where he testified Thursday.

Rutherford started a homeless shelter and turned it into a $38-million a year business.

He testified that he didn’t mind writing checks to Kilpatrick to get him elected mayor because he felt that Kilpatrick was a politician that could be bought.

When asked if he was dishing out the money because he hoping to get something in return, Rutherford said, “Yes, I guess. “

Rutherford wanted to get into Detroit’s mega million-dollar casino business. He wanted a casino and hotel on the Detroit River Front near the Renaissance Center. He needed Kilpatrick’s help to get a license.

He testified to giving Kilpatrick thousands for new suits for a trip to Dubai. He also said he hired Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard, as a consultant -- paying him $113,000.

Adolf Mongo is a friend of Rutherford’s, who said mixing business and politics is complicated. The feds say it’s illegal.

“Mr. Rutherford was probably doing the same thing that a lot of other folks, business people in this town, have been doing for the last 40 or 50 years,” Mongo said.

Rutherford never got a casino. But he has pleaded guilty to tax evasion. His testimony is part of an effort to get a lighter sentence.