Local 4 is inside the courtroom for the federal corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Kilpatrick's dad Bernard Kilpatrick and his childhood friend Bobby Ferguson. Each day we bring you information from inside federal court as it happens.
And so here we are, the last day in the courtroom for the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial before jury deliberations begin.
Yesterday we finished with defense closing arguments and we will move on to government rebuttal with US Attorney Mark Chutkow before the case is passed on to the jury for deliberation.
Kwame was reading the book of inspirational verses he has had throughout the trial. He passes it on to Bobby Ferguson who flips through and then hands it off to Bernard Kilpatrick.
Yesterday's closing arguments definitely finished on an emotional note. Ferguson's lawyer Gerald Evelyn got quite emotional at the end as he quoted from Martin Luther King Jr. He had Kwame wiping away tears and even a juror was crying openly.
9:00AM Judge Nancy Edmunds enters. Immediate sidebar with counsel.
9:05AM Chutkow at the podium, ready to start with his rebuttal.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
Waiting for a juror.
In my opening statement in this case, in the evidence in trial, in my colleague's closing statement, this case has always been about bribery, extortion and fraud.
The defense has tried to say it was about the drive to help minority businesses. That agenda was a smokescreen for their real agenda which was to help themselves. They drove out white and black businesses.
If people got in their way, they crushed them.
First Odel Jones, when he confronted Ferguson about lack of safety equipment at the Book Cadillac. Ferguson was offended. Work opportunities for Jones dried up. He went to everyone for help.
"Odel Jones call your mama, lol." says Ferguson. "I know. And my sister," responds Kwame.
Tom Hardiman who went to congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
Ferguson texts Kwame that they called his mother.
Talking about Jim Jenkins who had the temerity to not hire Bernard's client. So Bernard tried to get city regulators to drive him out of town.
A bid deal was made about Ferguson mentoring. All he could come up with was Simmons from E & T Trucking.
Hardiman cut Ferguson out and started working directly with E & T Trucking. Ferguson got furious he wasn't paid. So he went and tried to get E & T's certification pulled.
"This is not mentoring. This is knee-capping someone who was about to stand on his own."
Mr. Thomas in closing said that Ferguson was out in the cold who was digging sewers no one wanted. Tell that to Avinash Rachmale, Willi Hayes and McCormick who all wanted to work in the cold.
When Kwame came into office, first thing he did was to hold up 1368. They thought this was justified because Charlie Williams was a minority front. Williams was the former head of the DWSD.
Williams is now the head of a successful company. He wasn't a front.
Let's talk about the real fronts in this case. Akunna Olumba that Bernard tried to insert in a deal. Where are the boots on the ground on this?
They were going to use Daniel Ferguson as a trucker? Where is the transparency?
Lets talk about Archie Clark. Bernard talking to Kado about inserting him in a food contract. He had no experience in food.
Amendment #4 to 1368. Kwame's team says he was too busy to sign the amendment. That contract was held up that whole summer. They had face to face conversations with mayor weho said he was holding it up till Ferguson got paid.
Ferguson confronted Bernard Parker in a parking lot about siding with Inland against him and the mayor.
Also heard from Derrick Miller who said he went to a meeting at a restaurant with Dennis Oszust and Ferguson so that Oszust would know who supported Ferguson. That's where Ferguson got his $350,000 payment and a week later the amendment went through.
Parker was subpoenaed to testify in this case like everyone else. There was no benefit.
Want to talk about outfalls contract. Defense says the no show payment was a settlement claim. If that's the case, where is the paperwork? And why did Ferguson give a fake invoice for $450,000 with his wife's name on it? Because he knew it was extortion.
Baby Creek. We never dispute that the bid was delayed for a proper reason. It's after bid opened that the extortion started. Bernard Parker was working with Walbridge at the time. Miller told him they had to use Ferguson on the project even though Parker said they had someone else. That's the reason for the hastily written contract. Think about that. they had to cobble this together. Administration had to see that buddy was taken care of.
Now back to Lakeshore and 1361. Defense says it was canceled because it wasn't needed. Daryl Latimer of DWSD testified it was needed. Victor Mercado went to the board about it and then 5 months later changes his mind and cancels it.
Text from Ferguson: Hello Black you haven't released that contract, right?
More from Ferguson: 1361 is the same contract, prices maybe less than the other one, but hey you know the rest. Kwame: Cool!
Why would Kwame be interested? Because he shared in it.
Latimer didn't understand why it couldn't be kept. In July 2003, Mercado comes into his office to write him an email about not needing the contract. Latrimer says he did i9t and felt uncomfortable. Next day, he gets an email from Mercado following his advice and canceling it.
the Heilman Recreation Center. See the text between Ferguson and Beatty and you know that was rigged.
Lajuan Wilkes. The only reason she got in trouble was because she was doing her job. Who was on both her recreation projects? Xcel. She knew they were double dipping and told the board. And for it , she gets berated by Ferguson in front of boss who does nothing.
Ferguson's influence in Kwame's administration. Look at internal communications between mayor and Ferguson.
Look at Ferguson's instructions on Baby Creek.
"Baby Creek, I told you when I needed help, help fucking victor, i don't need DWSD to sit in on the bid opening."
Next the sinkhole in Sterling Heights.
"We need to meet on how I move in. I got a great idea, sir..."
Defense says that Soave is such a bigshot that he can't be messed with. He has businesses in the city. If he can be bullied, why did he dump his good friend Chalie Williams? He did it because the mayor told him too.
And when Ferguson caused problems, why did Soave go back to mayor and say is he still your guy?
Let's talk about Kathleen McCann. Ferguson told her ""You act like Victor has ever made one decision ever." She said working with Ferguson was like having "a sword dangling over our head."
Look at notes from head of DLZ, Mr Prata Rajahyaksha, he refused to give Ferguson more work because he didn't complete projects. Ferguson told him he didn't " You don't need to worry about the director. Worry about me" He didn't listen and got his certification for DLZ yanked and then mysteriously re-inserted. Why would that happen? Contract 2012 goes between those two.
You heard from Kim Harris of Human Rights department that he was told to yank certification on orders from mayor.
Defense claims that Kwame didn't use his power to help Ferguson in any way. If that's true, think about the police department project.
Text from Christine Beatty: "Why not Bobby on this?"
Kwame reply: "Bobby wanted to strategically lose a major bid. He will be on this one at bid time."
The pressure on city contracts got so extreme it even trumped family ties. You heard Miller say that Ayanna Kilpatrick complained to him about getting clients in on Synagro deal.
Ayanna text: "Here we go with Bobby bull again!..... Can we make $ too?!
If sister can't make money, how can Odel Jones. Kwame was putting his own money making ahead of his sister.
This text is about a journalist who used to be with Detroit news.
Fergusuon: Darcie asking if we are friends. Kwame texts back telling him to downplay it and to say he is a supporter. He stuffed half a million in his accounts. He spent more than $840,000 than he had in his accounts. How does the defense explain it? Kilpatrick's attorney says it all came from gifts.
First wedding reception which occurred 6 years before he became mayor.
"One thing is clear with Kilpatrick, cash gifts are preferred."
If that's true, why is his banking activity before he became mayor so normal. He was acting like a normal person who didn't get bribed.
That all changed when he became mayor of Detroit. Looking at a very good chart that shows red down dip before he is mayor and then green peaks afterwards.
He put just enough to pay bills but not enough to alert regulators.
So how does defense explain green. It all comes down to Splash of Red party that apparently was awash in cash.
Like check from Mablene Rogers for $10 to Kwame.
Defense asked Agent Ron Sauer if IRS went to every check cashing facility in the city.
"Mayor had time to sign a $10 check but he didn't have inclination to sign $12 million amendment #4."
The $10 is the same amount that William Tandy felt comfortable with. But he felt like he had to step it up so he gave $100 and had to eat Ramen noodles for a week.
We heard about lavish twice a year office parties. Heard from Kizzi Montgomery that contributions were expected. She made $32,000 a year, 5 times less than the mayor of Detroit but she was expected to give him cash.
A $22,000 Rolex watch and a family vacation.
She didn't say there were balls of cash.
What is apparent is the selfishness of the mayor. It was a one way street. Nothing for anyone else but his partners there.
If he could shakedown his employees, do you think he minded shaking down a big businessman?
Number one person was Bobby Ferguson.
"It was no splash of red. It was a tidal wave of green."
Thomas suggested that Kwame asked Rutherford to give him $10,000 for suits to Dubai and that he requested another gift to go to Vegas to go entertain. Someone who is looking to land a casino in the same city. That is not a gift. that is a bribe.
Like the payments of Ferguson. Like the payments of Kado.
Over the period, Ferguson took $2.3 million out of his business accounts. Defense says we didn't make a direct correlation from when Ferguson made withdrawals and deposits into Kwame's account. You saw the cash in his safe's he didn't have to go to bank.
Saw checks with truck parts. Problem is that they don't always mean what they say. Checks that were under $10,000 that were given to Golden Sun jeweler.
They were in a partnership together. Kwame went out of his way to steer contracts to Ferguson.
Coded communications about meeting. Marc Andre Cunningham said when Kwame learned that he was being tapped, they had outdoor conversation with hands over their mouth.
Kwame had hundreds of thousands flowing through his account that didn't come from a legitimate source.
Defense suggests that all that cash from Ferguson came at the end because he was chased out of banks. He was taking money out the entire money Kwame was mayor.
Ferguson sharing spoils of scheme when Mahlon Clift took $90,000 to give to them.
Want to talk about legal standards. In deliberations, you will get indictment. It provides a structure. Will also get a glossary that correlates. Use them together to look at exhibits in orderly manner.
The only chapter I want to talk about is the racketeering conspiracy, count 1. Must find that one of the members would commit at least 2 of the listed crimes:
Federal Offenses- extortion/bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice state offenses: extortion and bribery.
Take any 2 of these offenses shown here.
Showing pictures of people involved in Kilpatrick Civic Fund- for mail fraud.
Picture of 3 sisters for obstruction of justice charge.
Collage of 18 different witnesses.
Defense said that Kwame only misspent $13,000 of Civic Fund expenses. You have heard in this case of more than $200,000 misspent. $200,000 given to family and friends. Chart doesn't include $150,000 for political campaign. Chart doesn't include total of $550,000 misspent.
Recall testimony of April Edgar who signed Civic Fund. She said she was told by Mayor Kilpatrick and nobody else. That last meeting was called by the mayor.
Take a look at the IRS application. Kwame signed himself to get tax exempt status from IRS. When you dissolve nonprofit, it is supposed to go to another non profit.
Don't forget what the donors told you. they were asked hypothetically if they would have given if they knew it was used for summer camp and massages. they al said no. that is fraud.
Defense said that Kwame gave back $13,000. First of all, if they truly wanted to pay back the fund, it was more than $500,000. Look at timing of payback, it only came back after grand jury subpoena of fund uses. Only after the subpoena, after almost a decade of using funds, that he paid back only a sliver of what was owed.
I want to talk about Bernard. Shea talked about Rosendall's credibility. You can't trust him because he was stringing along Bernard and lying to his bosses at Syngaro. I can tell you Rosendall was in a bind because Bernard was in a dispute with Rayford Jackson and Rosendall got caught in the middle. Bernard said he would blow up the billion dollar deal. Defense says it was a legitimate debt. If it was a legitimate debt, why didn't he go to court? Because courts don't enforce acts of extortion.
Shea talks about checks supposedly for consulting work. Those weren't corporate, they came from Rosendall's personal account. One memo line for check reads loan.
Bernard didn't have issues taking money from people. Bernard didn't take cash in a restaurant. Bernard said that there were only 3 peopple in the city willing to go under the bus for him. 2 of them are sitting right there as Chutkow points to defense table.
Keep in mind that Kwame lost special administrative power in 2006. Not to say mayor didn't have power. He was still Victor's boss.
Shea asked why Rosendall was lying to his bosses. Couldn't come clean because he was engaged in activity with Bernard. We don't excuse conduct for Rosendall but he paid price and went to jail.
Rather than undermining Rosendall credibility, he knew what he was doing was wrong. Doesn't exonerate Bernard's behavior.
Defense says that Rosendall was bought and paid for. When he came to court, he had already served his sentence. He had nothing more to gain from the government.
10:00AM Judge calls for 15 minute break.
10:17AM Judge Edmunds re-enters. Jury has been very into the proceedings this morning. They are taking a ton of notes.
This is it. We are about to end government rebuttal.
Chutkow at the podium, ready to go. EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz standing right next to him.
Chutkow said he was alerted to mistake at the break. Says that the certification for DLZ being yanked related to 2014 and not 2012.
Wants to talk about Karl Kado. Regular payment to Bernard that totaled in the hundreds of thousands. Received a final payment from Kado for $100,000.
If Bernard ran a legitimate consulting service, where are the invoices, receipts? Why didn't he demand a check to keep his ledgers in order. It's because he didn't want anyone to know about the payments.
If Kado was paying a real consultant, he could just write a check to him. He could have taken a deduction. Kado could have used help on his taxes.
Why are the hundreds of thousand of cash that went between Bernard and Kado not on Bernard's tax returns? Bear that in mind when thinking about tax charges.
Tapes. In one recording, mayor is talking to Bernard and says city owes Kado but it's a question of how much. Later when Kado tells Bernard he is not going to pay him, Bernard tells him it could take 2 years to get paid. Same amount of time he told Rosendall.
"No deal without me" mantra.
Defense says Kado couldn't keep things straight. Said there were 8 inches of snow in august. Kado said there were 2 bribes that took place but Thomas cut him off before his explanation.
Cunningham said that he paid cash in the basement by barber shop because it looked wrong on 11th floor. It is wrong if it's bribe or extortion.
All the alleged work that Bernard did for these people, Kado, Rutherford. I would submit that most of the work was done by his lawyer Shea who would come up with why these people would pay him in the first place.
Shea says that there is no signature on the tax form. are they suggesting that Bernard's tax preparers went rogue? these supposed rogue tax prepares sent it in October for $91,000. That same day, Bernard paid the IRS $91,000. How did he know exact amount? Because he authorized filing.
The defense says you can't believe witnesses who pleaded guilty. Cunningham, Miller, Kado and Rosendall. We don't disagree. that's why they are all convicted.
It's interesting that all this corrupt activity is going on at city Hall without these defendants.
House sitting analogy. It's ridiculous. Proper way to look at it. If your spouse is in an accident, and several witnesses come to tell you and then you get text messages about it. would you go to hospital? Of course you do.
What the defense don't tell you about the government is that there is a consistent pattern of behavior by defendants. Behavior is the same.
Doesn't depend on testimony of a witness. Too many witnesses saying same thing.
Want to avoid 2 things: cash and text messages.
Cash is the smoking gun in the hand of the defendants,. no way to explain why a public servant would have that much cash unless he is being paid off.
Texts are proof. Like going to your brain, to your thumbs to the receiver., Like a crime scene to review whenever you want. You won't get any better evidence than the text messages in this case.
corruption happens with winks and node, in the shadows when no one is looking.
Who are the government witnesses? Bernard, Kwame and Bobby picked these people. They are their friends and people they worked with. Mahlon Clift did nothing wrong but show loyalty to Kwame. And what was his reward? the defendant attacked his credibility and businesses.
Defendants sais that Clift stopped testimony in grand jury and then called his mother., That's fairly obvious. He was about to disclose about the $90,000. he stopped and called his mother who is a lawyer.
Defendants want you to think that his mother told him to lie under oath. Preposterous. what kind of mom, particularly a lawyer, would tell her son to lie to grand jury?
What motive would he have to make this?
Agent Joe Jense went through the metal detector with cash a hundred times without setting off.
Defense says government didn't want to play the video. not true, they got to it first., We were going to show it with Jensen.
Why do the defendants want you think Mahlon Clift made this us? Because if not they are guilty.
Derrick Miller told you his was a friend of the mayor. He was a reluctant witness. What does he get in return? He was attached by them for telling the truth about himself and them.
Testimony Cunningham by Parker, McCann, Kado.
Next Emma Bell. Defense took aim and called her alcoholic and gambling junkie. Long time family friend.
Cunningham because he admitted that he was paying kickback to Bernard at request of Kwame.
who did they spare? Jon Rutherford, a tycon who made $650,000 a year from homeless shelter and used money to bankroll Kwame to bankroll casino. That is the one guy they chose to remain loyal to.
The defendants have engaged in pattern of deception that continues to this day. The state Arts Grant. Said money would be used for runaways, senior, peer mediation. Evelyn said it was transparent. So why did Ferguson doctor invoices sent to the sate?
Using public money is not overkill. It is wrong.
then Ferguson told sisters to lie about donations to hide his relationship to mayor.
Evelyn says that he did counsel them to lie but to the Gambling commission and not to grand jury. Where is transparency in that?
Defense jumped quickly over sinkhole. Why? May have to do with what they presented to you?
We are looking at altered time sheets. Made to seem like Ferguson was at the sinkhole in august 2004 to undermine text messages about how to move in.
This was a lie to you. the truth is that Ferguson didn't work in late August, he got there September 14th Paszkiewicz showed you that. That was all 3 weeks after.
The defense presented alternative theory with altered document to make it seem he was there first.
Look at top document. Real exhibit and the fake exhibit. Chutkow does really cool overlapping technique by pulling from original document and pulling it to altered one and removed date.
A witness said the document date had to be wrong.
This is what they passed off to you. This would have stood had Pazkiewicz not seen that something was wrong and hunted for the truth.
Could be wrong but it seems Chutkow is saying this defense exhibit was tampered with after trial began.
Defense lawyer Mike Rataj shaking his head vigorously.
You've heard from witnesses who did not commit crimes but were compromised by defendants.
Pay to play system corrupts the system.
If Kwame hadn't let Ferguson run rampant with his support.
Thomas talked about Lakeshore. Did they get more contracts? Yes. But when did it happen? After they agreed to Ferguson extortionate demands, paid him $1.7 million in no show plus additional $800,000.
Lakeshore paid financially and ethically.
Honest businessmen like Odel Jones did not stand a chance. People who paid taxes, water utility bills, who put Kilpatrick in office, they didn't get goods and services for lowest price and they didn't get honest government.
You share a common goal to see justice done. you were selected together and represent together. Now you're time to work together to a verdict. In deliberations, keep open mind. If you work together in good faith, you can come to decision that is wiser than any one person in the room.
Throughout this trial, it has become clear that Kilpatrick and accomplices used public he was elected to serve. He we elected to look out for their welfare. not elected to stuff quietly half a million in his accounts or that Bobby got $83 million on revenue or that his father was middleman. He was entrusted to act for people of Detroit.
Evelyn read from Profiles of Courage by then Senator John F. Kennedy. Back in 1973, Kennedy sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver Kennedy spoke about corruption at a college graduation ceremony. She had her own moral standing because of her commitment to public service exemplified by founding the Special Olympics. She had a genuine commitment to the most vulnerable in society.
this is what she told the college students that day:
"These are most bitter days, and yet, as our leaders stand revealed, we see not evil men but shallow and pathetic men. The final charge against these men, I think, will not be their shabby deals, their frantic cover-ups. No, it will be simply that having been given extraordinary power and opportunity to make life better in this nation and the world, they scarcely tried.... Their message was grab what you can and run. Let them run now, and let us see if we can make something grow in the desert they have left behind. ---Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 1973"
I am sorry to say that the bitter days are the city during the Kilpatrick administration. The scale of corruption was breathtaking.
We cannot turn away and ignore corruption. Time for former mayor and accomplices to be held accountable for crimes. Assess responsibility for shameful events that transpired in the city. We have given you the tools. We took great case to select you as jurors. Make no mistake this is a case that can be decided. That should be decided. All of us in this room know beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the people to decide it.
We hand this case to you.
Wow. An incredibly powerful conclusion.
Judge says she has 2 additional substantive instructions. She is reading.
Supplemental instruction regarding count 1. To clarify, as I instructed previously, government must prove that defendant or one or more of conspirators engaged in pattern of racketeering activity. Most include at least 2 of the listed crimes.
Now wants to clarify that the verdict must be unanimous as to which types of racketeering activity were committed. must be unanimous with respect to 2 underlying acts.
Clarification of numbering of exhibits that has to be read into evidence. Judge reads through the revisions. Reads about government exhibits that are withdrawn. Defense exhibits that are admitted.
Also reads corrections to the trial transcript.
Judge turns to page 66 of jury instructions. Instructions on deliberations. First, must select a fore person.
Once they start deliberating, cannot talk to anyone but most communicate by writing and judge will respond as quickly as possible. Might have to confer with counsel.
They can't write down if they are split. That needs to stay secret until they are finished.
Can only make decision based on what they have seen and heard in court, Can't conduct individual investigation. Ads in consulting dictionaries or internet to get more information. Make decision only on evidence seen and heard in court.
Verdict, guilty or not guilty, most be unanimous. To find guilty, government must have convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Not guilty, government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Talk to each other and listen respectfully. Try best to work out differences. Don't hesitate to change your mind but don't do so just to get case over with.
Own vote is your own vote. No one can hear discussions in jury room and no record will be kept. So speak freely.
If you elected to take notes, they should be used only as memory aides. Rely on recollection of evidence and don't be influenced by notes of other jurors. All most form own opinions as to the facts.
If you decide the government has proved one or more of defendants guilty, I will decide the punishment.
I have prepared a verdict form to record the verdict. It's fairly long. Judge reads it out.
Lists all the counts, the names of defendants involved and guilty or not guilty.
If you feel government has proved beyond a reasonable, say so by marking the appropriate place on the form and handing it to fore person.
Let me finish up by repeating something I said earlier.
you decide for yourselves if the government has proved defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
11:15AM Now this is a sad moment. Judge sounds teary. I need to dismiss the alternate jurors. These people who sat here for months and won't get to deliberate. It's truly a gift you have given the community. Not words to thank you enough for your conscientious service.
Jurors have asked to have lunch together. Can't discuss case during lunch. Deliberations can't start until after lunch. They have also asked for formal deliberations to not start until Tuesday morning. Can use time this afternoon to review notes.
Want to say also for purpose of the press. It happens that sometimes an alternate is called on to replace sitting juror during deliberations. You are excused from court but not excused from case. Media may not speak to them about questions regarding the case.
Judge swearing in court officers.
Four alternates should still not read or listen to anything relating to case because they may still be called back.
Court officers sworn in so they can now respond to questions.
11:19AM Adjourned for the day. Thank you very much.
Starting Tuesday deliberating from 9AM until 4:30PM.
Judge thanking counsel for hard work, courtesy to each other and her. It's been a pleasure to work with you.
Many lawyers respond "Likewise."
Monitors turn off.
And is it for the trial. Formal jury deliberations begin next Tuesday. Now we await a verdict.
About the author
Alexandra Harland is a Princeton undergrad and has a masters degree in International affairs with Columbia. A Montreal native, she worked with the Daily Telegraph newspaper for a few years before transitioning to TV, when she worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings. Alexandra has also worked in newsrooms in both Detroit and Boston.