Kwame Kilpatrick on trial: Day 65
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.
8:57AM Video turns on and the three defendants are seated alone at the table. Counsel must be in Judge Nancy Edmunds's chambers.
Yesterday last witness was CPA Gary Leeman who was an expert witness on 501c4s for the defense. Unfortunately for the defense, he was rather more helpful for the government when he admitted that there was no way that yoga classes should have been paid by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. He is supposed to come back Tuesday but I'm wondering if the defense decides it's not really worth their while.
9:13AM Finally, here comes counsel. About to find out what they've been discussing.
Except they all just walked out, defendants included and now the courtroom is totally empty.
Apparently, they have told courtroom spectators they need 15 more minutes but have not explained why.
9:24AM Still waiting.
9:37AM And we are still waiting. No idea what is going on but this is definitely the latest start yet. Can't even begin to speculate what this delay is all about.
Government attorneys all seems to be in the courtroom. It was interesting because after the meeting in judge's chambers earlier this morning, defense counsel walked through the room, picked up the defendants and walked out the courtroom's main door.
9:40AM Bobby Ferguson's lawyer Mike Rataj is first of the defense team back in the courtroom. Soon followed by all three defendants. Kwame seems to have opted to go jacketless today: he's just wearing a suit vest over his shirt and tie today.
9:42AM Alright so it looks like the rest of defense counsel is finally streaming back into the courtroom.
9:47AM Still nothing. This is unbelievable. Wondering if maybe we are missing a juror because this is one long delay.
9:48AM Judge Edmunds finally enters. Says there were evidenciary issues with a bunch of defense witnesses that had to be resolved and that was what was done over the last hour.
They had a meeting in chambers where counsel went on record.
Judge asks for additional statements from counsel.
Thomas says government teed up an issue referred to in their brief from "the olden days" when we first started the trial.
Judge interrupts and asks the court reporter to tells jurors who are not in the courtroom to quiet down.
Thomas continues that they want to prove that Civic Fund was put to good purposes. Thomas saying they are attempting to rebut culture of corruption and that the Civic Fund in particular was not put towards that use.
Thomas says that $1.7 million dollars came in for the period between 2002 and 2008 and just a minimal percentage of that is in question.
Thomas says they are not putting Kwame's character in question but looking at a bigger picture of the Civic Fund.
Says he will continue to attack that the Civic Fund was used for improper purposes. He wants to flesh out what the Civic Fund was doing.
Judge says that his argument that because 92% of the Civic Fund uses were proper and only 8% of the usage was improper is not defensible.
Thomas says it was 99% in the years that he quoted. But he says if you are talking about specific areas of conduct where criminality occur, this rebuts the culture of corruption argument.
Judge says Civic Fund issue is mail fund issue.
US Attorney Mark Chutkow counters Thomas's argument. Says that defense is not prohibited from introducing opinion testimony but not evidence of good conduct. Says that government can introduce bad conduct evidence to rebut but not the reverse for the defense.
Chutkow says that evidence should be prohibited.
Thomas counters it is a relevance not character issue. Feels they should be fairly allowed to rebut the culture of corruption assertion.
Judge Edmunds reads from another case as a citation for her ruling. She says that she understands this case has been tried as a culture of corruption case and that there are RICO charges that are different from bribery and extortion. She will allow Thomas's 2 witnesses and 2 witnesses only. One will testify to contribution and the other will testify to overall payments in general.
Judge says she will not allow a witness to testify about Kilpatrick's good actions while in office.
Rataj points at the door and says "Your honor 2 seconds" and bolts for the door. Soon followed by Thomas who also makes a bolt for the bathroom.
10:06AM Jurors finally enter the courtroom but now we have to wait for Thomas and Rataj to return.
And they are back. Thomas grabs some papers and walks out the door, I'm imagining to look for the witness.
Male witness is sworn in. Joseph Zainea is co-owner of the Majestic Theater Center for 26 years. Works there with his 2 sons. Combination of a restaurant, bowling center and 2 nightclubs.
Discussing Kwame's 30th birthday.
"Highlight of it is that I got to be babysitter to Mr. Kilpatrick's 2 young boys," says witness about how he looked after the boys while their parents were talking to a planner.
Looking at an invite for the party which includes a baby shot of Kwame, one of him as a young boy and another as he was at the time.
Witness says he babysat the twins while plans for the party were being made. Said that there were between 200 to 300 people at the party. Witness got a check for $5,200 from Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
Thomas points to "Wishing well" at the bottom of the invitation. Witness says that is something to indicate money donations.
Thomas is done and government has no questions for the witness. He's done and gone.
10:17AM New witness on the stand. Erik Rayford. Worked as bank examiner for federal government. Known Kwame for many years, went to Cass Tech together. Maintained friendship after college.
Banking a heavily regulated industry says witness and he enforces regulations banks have to follow.
Witness was involved with the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Witness says there was a 20 year period where they talked on a regular basis but no so much the last few years. Assisted Kwame in both mayoral campaigns.
Rayford says he had no interest in politics and wanted to keep his friendship with Kwame separate from a working one.
Witness says he became involved in the Civic Fund because it was a good way to serve the community. Understood it was a way to separate political activities from community activities.
Thomas asks witness if he understands the difference between candidate specific activity and general political activity. Witness says he does not.
Rayford says he doesn't recall Kwame resigning from the Civic Fund but that it did seem that he stepped away from an official role at one point.
Rayford says he can't remember the specific years he worked with Civic Fund. Thinks it started just before Kwame became mayor. Lasted for several years through Kilpatrick's administrations. so from about 2001 through 2008.
Thomas points to restarted articles of incorporation. Witness does not recall them.
Rayford recalls Derrick Miller, Christine Beatty, Ayanna Kilpatrick, Kwame being on the Board. Witness says that meetings occurred once a year. there was a lawyer usually present at meetings, William Phillips.
Witness's understanding was the Phillips was there to ensure that the follow the rules with the Civic Fund.
Rayford says that Phillips was at every annual meeting to ensure that they sign proper documents. Says that the meetings were formally conducted.
Rayford says that they had meetings at Phillip's office, in the conference room.
Rayford says that it gave him comfort to follow rules by having Phillips with them, that it ensured they stay within the proper "bounds."
Rayford says he was at Kwame's wedding ceremony.
Witness says he went to the Bahamas for Kwame's wedding.
Looking at the wedding invitation. September 9th 1995 in Nassau, Bahamas- Kwame and Carlita's wedding date and location. Reception was at Wayne County Building Atrium.
Witness thinks there were guests in the "hundreds". At the bottom of the invitation it indicates "Monetary Gifts Preferred." Witness believes he gave such a gift.
Rayford says that Kwame had many birthday parties. Discussing the "Splash of Red" party for Kwame. Look at the invitation for the party at the ballroom in the Atheneum.
Rayford says he was disappointed in the lack of hip hop at the party.
Witness says there were many guests at the party. He wore a black shirt with a splash of red.
Rayford does not recall gifts being solicited at the party but not saying it did not occur. He would think that people gave cash gifts as they did at other parties.
Discussing a meeting in 2008 at the Manoogian Mansion for members of the Civic Fund board. Rayford says that Kwame was facing something "negative, public, court-involved." Believes Kwame was facing jail. Thinks he was leaving office and was facing negative publicity.
Purpose of the meeting was to bring the board together to dissolve the Fund because the mayor was no longer to be in office. Discussing giving funds to the mayor.
Believes Ayanna called the meeting. Says Ayanna, himself were at the meeting. Having trouble recalling who else. Comes up with Phillips, April Edgar. Does not believe Derrick Miller was there.
Rayford says meeting was in dining room of Manoogian Mansion. Says Kwame spoke to them and updated them on what was going on in his life.
US Attorney Michael Bullotta objects.
Witness says Kwame let them know he was leaving office and would be moving away. Says that after that, he left the meeting.
10:40AM When Kwame left, witness says they discussed financial support when he left office. Says Phillips was in the office when that was discussed.
Rayford does not think that anything was wrong with what they discussed. Especially as lawyer Phillips did not object to any of it. Says Kwame was not in the room when vote was taken to financially support him with the Civic Fund.
Rayford that everyone on the Civic Fund board including himself was vilified by the media for this support of Kwame.
Witness says the media exposure impacted his job.
Bullotta objects. Judge sustains.
Rayford says he did not feel manipulated at the Civic Fund meetings.
Rayford says as bank examiner, he is familiar with inner city.
Thomas asks a question about whether witness feels that African Americans are under served by banks.
Bullotta objects to relevance. Thomas asks for sidebar. Judge sustains government objection.
10:45AM Judge says we'll be taking our 20 minute break now to take up evidentiary hearing.
Thomas talking about Civic Fund trial balances from 2003 to 2007, $1.725 million raised. Judge says that she understood that he had evidence of this type and was going to let him go ahead and produce. But she understands that she had not produced any of this evidence to the government and doesn't know if this is the witness to put it into perspective. Judge says she is talking about underlying documents.
Bullotta says that he is told that the trial balances came from Gregory Terrell thus should have gotten into it with Terrell and not this current witness. Definitely thinks this is the wrong witness and there is no foundation. Thomas he may ask for Terrell to come back.
10:50AM Alright so now we are taking our 20 minute break.
11:18AM Judge enters the courtroom.
Judge says she has sustained the government's objection to the use of the exhibit for this witness. Witness says that he doesn't recall exactly when Kwame resigned from Civic Fund board but it was around the time he became mayor. 2001 sounds right.
11:21AM Bullotta cross examines.
Rayford agrees that he was friends with Ferguson as well. Witness says he has had contacted with Kwame in the last 2 months. Says Kwame stopped by his house. Bullotta tells judge he has a question he would like to ask and wants a sidebar. Rayford thinks he was asked to be on the board by Kwame.
Witness does not know who controlled the checkbook of the Civic Fund. Is not sure he would agree that whoever controlled the checkbook ran the Civic Fund.
Rayford says at no time did he ever have say on how monies were spent. Says he never conducted audits of Civic Fund or sat on the committees to direct how Civic Fund money was spent. Rayford unaware of any tax code rules for the Civic Fund. Witness says board made decision to approve money to give to Kwame.
Says Kwame never came to the Board to get approval for his yoga lessons.
Was not personally asked for approval of Cadillac Deville. October 2008 $1228 stay at Great Wolf Lodge was not approved by the witness. Rayford says that he doesn't believe it was in the by-laws for Kwame to benefit personally from the Civic Fund. Says he believed the Civic Fund was something that was required to be separate from political office. Bullotta asks if witness was aware that letters that went out for donations stated implicitly it wasn't for political purposes.
Witness unaware. Rayford not aware and did not approve of the Super Camp expenses of $4,250 for Jelani and Jelil and Jeff Beasley's son in 2008. Rayford does not recall attending Marvel Cheeks's 90th birthday. Does not recall payment for the party being discussing by Civic Fund board.
Bullotta asks about 2008 meeting to dissolve Civic Fund. Witness unaware of any payments to Bernard by the Fund. Witness agrees that was the final official meeting and that Ayanna Kilpatrick called him. Has no idea if it was Kwame's idea to have the meeting.
Talking about witness's grand jury testimony on May 12th 2010. Bullotta says he is attempting to impeach. Judge says she believes it is for part of what was said during Thomas’s direct examination of the witness. In grand jury testimony, witness said he didn't remember if William Phillips was present at the meeting when Ayanna Kilpatrick brought up Kwame's moving expenses. Rayford says Kwame was at meetings when he met with the defense lawyers.
Agrees that he doesn't want to see anything bad happen to his friends. Rayford agrees that he doesn't remember Phillips saying it was proper to approve Kwame moving expenses. But doesn't believe he said it was improper either. Rayford still thinks Phillips was there because they signed documents. But doesn't remember exactly. Bullotta asks if Board ever overruled when Kwame made a decision with the Civic Fund. Thomas objects. Judge sustains.
Bullotta says that Phillips said at the meeting that when the Civic Fund dissolved they had to give it to another 501c4 and couldn't use it for personal purposes. Witness says he is confused. Bullotta says at any point in that last meeting, Phillips making the statement that it is in the by-laws of giving it to another 501c4. Witness does not remember that. Bullotta has an exhibit he wants to show the witness.
Asks if the witness sees his name on the document. He does. Reads from the Civic Fund by-laws. "Upon dissolution, any assets remaining after full and complete payment shall be donated to a 501c4 organization with a similar purpose by majority vote of the board of directors."
Witness still holds that he does not recall Phillips making that statement at the meeting. Amongst people who signed the incumbency certificate: Kwame and the witness himself.
11:44AM John Shea questions.
Witness reiterates he is not aware of any Civic Fund payments to Bernard. Rayford agrees that he was not the check writer. "Purposefully separated myself from any financial situations," says the witness.
11:45AM More from Thomas.
Thomas says he is going to educate the government on this one.
Looking at witness's grand jury testimony.
Bullotta objects. Thomas argues for relevance. Judge calls for sidebar because she is not sure.
Thomas asks if witness was prepared for questions to the grand jury. He says he met with prosecutor but does not recall being set up with questions.
Thomas says that he did answer in grand jury testimony that William Phillips was at the meeting.
Judge asks Thomas to read questions without editorializing.
Sounds like witness did testify to grand jury that Phillips was at the meeting. Mentioned in grand jury testimony that Phillips gave advice on how money should be spent.
Rayford still believes that Phillips gave advice on how money could be spent.
Witness says that Phillips made sure board dotted their Is and crossed their Ts. Rayford was concerned about following rules. Says he was comfortable that they did.
Thomas saying that Bullotta did not show the restated the articles of incorporation. Bullotta objects that Thomas is leading witness. Judge sustains.
Witness agrees that articles would have been revised around the time Kwame was running for mayor.
Witness says date of July 2001 sounds right.
Rayford says that he wasn't told that anyone working for non-profit could not extract a wage.
Thomas mentioning check for Center for Yoga and Relaxation in 2003.
Looking at summary for total Civic Funds alleged to be improperly used $152,095.
Thomas saying charge of $900 for Yoga seems to be only alleged improper use for 2003.
Witness agrees that he had trust and confidence in the way the Civic Fund was being run.
Thomas asks if witness thinks there is anything inappropriate with yoga check. Witness has no opinions on it.
Looking at $2,500 check for the Marvel Cheeks party at the Atheneum. Thomas seems to be arguing that Grandpa Cheeks birthday was a community function.
Witness does not know if the Great Wold Lodge check for $1228 was reimbursed in 2008. Witness does not know.
Thomas asking about whether he thinks Super Camp which is educational would be inappropriate. Rayford says he has no knowledge of that.
12:00PM New witness William Wakefield Tandy. Questioned by Michael Naughton. This is the first time in the trial that Naughton questions a witness.
Tandy has a PHD in education. he is director of the Upward Bound program at Wayne State University. Program takes first generation low income students who want to matriculate in higher education. Works mostly with young people.
Tandy works with the Westside Cubs, a little league organization since 1957. According to the witness, "most winningest" football team that teaches "God, books and ball."
Witness says that on a typical day at Cabe field where they play, they have more people come to watch than at a high school game.
Says they have won national championships in the last few years and have won scholarships as a result.
Tandy says west side cubs is a non profit and all people are volunteering. He wears many hats- coaching to picking up garbage.
Has been doing this for 20 years.
"It saved my life," says Tandy. He played from ages 8 to 14. Then went off to Tennessee State.
Tandy mentions other former West Side cubs including Larry Foote who still identify with the Cubs bond.
Tandy says they play teams from all over Detroit.
Witness says they don't turns children away from the program because they would prefer kids on the field than on the streets.
Some funds come from donations. The Kilpatrick Civic Fund donated to the West Side Cubs.
Looking at a check from $2,500 from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund to the Westside Cubs. Dated July 22nd 2004. Memo line says "04 season."
Another KCF check to the Westside cubs for $1,250. Dated August 5th 2005. Memo line reads "donation cheerleading."
Another KCF check for $1800. Dated October 27th 2006.
And yet another. For $2500 from September 1st 2007.
And another. $750 dated October 25th 2007. Memo line reads "donation."
And another. $1,000 dated November 11th 2007. Witness says this was the Cubs 50th anniversary and they really needed help that year. They had some major break ins in 2006 and needed many things replaced.
Witness says this is the year that the Kilpatrick civic Fund donated $1,000 to every team in the league.
Tandy says donations were made at halftime of championship game that each team was given $1,000.
12:20PM Naughton shows a check from November 11th for $1,000 for the Detroit Chargers.
Witness agrees that other entities donated, Larry Foote donated, the UAW donated $11,800.
Tandy says all these donations helped the Westside Cubs.
Another check from KCF for $1,000 to Westside Cubs in September 2008.
Naughton saying that Kwame's children played for the Cubs at some point. Witness agrees thinks they played in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Tandy says none of those checks were for children to play. Strictly for the Westside Cubs.
Naughton says the Civic Fund did not just donate the years that the Kilpatrick children played.
Tandy recalls attending a birthday party for Kwame at the Atheneum. Does not recall the theme of the party.
Looking at the Splash of Red party invitation. Witness saying party was packed.
"I don't know 800. 1000. I don't know. A lot," says Tandy about the number of party attendees.
Witness describing large ballroom where it took place. Witness saying guests gave donations and gifts. Tandy says he gave $100.
"I was trying to give $10 but gave $100," says the witness.
12:27AM US Attoney Eric Doeh questions Tandy.
Doeh asks if he knew that the Civic Fund used the Westside Cubs to solicit donations. Witness not aware of that.
Looking at solicitation letter from KCF which mentions the Westside Cubs. This letter was from 2007. Others were sent in 2006 and 2008 as well.
Doeh says that in all but one year that the Westside Cubs received donations the Kilpatrick children played in the league. Witness believes it was 2 years.
Doeh done. For some reason Thomas exited the room.
12:31PM Naughton questions.
Before stepping down from the stand, Tandy tells the courtroom "We still need donations."
12:33PM Five minute break.
12:38PM New witness. Younger, attractive black female.
She is sworn in. This is Kizzi Montgomery.
"For all those who have not read Alex Haley's book," says Thomas about Roots.
Worked for Kwame after he won mayoral election in 2001. Started working in January 2002. Worked in Constituent Relations, took complaints about city services. Lasted 3 months before being promoted to community relations would talk about mayor and his agenda. That job lasted a year and a half. At the time, Karen Dumas was head of Community Relations. She worked on the 11th floor.
She worked on the executive side of the 11th floor.
After, she worked in communications. It was her job to advance mayor at all public events and would write his talking points for those events. She was about 25 at the time.
Put a briefing booklet together for Kwame for public events. she would get to events 30 minutes prior to Kwame's arrival to make sure everything was in place.
Sometimes traveled with the EPU whose function at the time was to determine what entrance the mayor should come through.
Witness says mayor traveled with EPU half the time.
Montgomery says the mayor's days were very busy from 7AM until 8PM. Agrees it was not 5 day weeks- 6 or 7 day weeks.
Says she worked with coordinator to make sure that mayor was properly placed in the program. Did lots of logistics work.
Witness says she had limited media interaction.
Witness says she had this position for about 2 years and during this time was at most public events that occurred. She reported to the Communications Director who reported to a cabinet officer. While witness worked with mayor, he had about 25 department directors and about 10 cabinet members.
Thomas asks about gifting in the office. witness says yes, there were several occasions throughout the year, mostly birthdays and Christmas. Says: "Donations were expected."
Says at the beginning, they were asked to donate $20 to $25. The last donation she recalls giving was $100 in 2006.
Montgomery says she currently works for mayor Bing, she is government relations.
Witness not aware what other employees donated. Knows what colleagues she was close to gave.
Montgomery says that at the time she gave $100 and that directors were asked for $500 and cabinet members were asked for $1000. this occurred at Christmas and at the mayor's birthday.
Looking at the Splash of Red birthday invite again. Montgomery says she was present at the party in the Atheneum. Recalls a lot of people being there.
Witness recalls Don Barden requesting gifts at the party. Recalls Barden saying that he was giving but can't recall an amount. Remembers it being substantial and was encouraging others to give gifts.
Montgomery says that Kwame never asked her for a gift. Agrees that the request came from others. Witness believes this happened for birthday and Christmas as just a gift for those occasions.
"A sign of affection for the mayor," asks Thomas.
"Sure," replies the witness.
12:54PM US Attorney Mark Chutkow questions.
Witness agrees that Kwame's cousin Nneka Cheeks collected the gifts. Also agrees that some employees complained about said gifts.
witness says that in the 6 years she worked for him, Kwame never came to say that she didn't have to give a gift.
Witness says that her first starting salary was $32,000. She was giving $25 to $50 twice a year for Kwame gifts.
Montgomery says that one year Kwame bought staff $50 Target cards for birthdays.
Chutkow pints out that was once but over 6 years she gave cash gifts twice a year.
Witness remembers a Rolex watch and golf vacation being purchased for the mayor.
12:57PM Thomas asks if witness recalls Rolex watch costing $22,000.
"That's a beautiful watch. You cared for your boss," says Thomas. Witness agrees.
Montgomery agrees that Kwame cared for his employees and treated them well.
12:58PM Witness steps down. Judge dismisses jury for the weekend.
Court reconvenes Monday at 9AM.
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.