The last witness on the day was IRS agent Rowena Schuch. Her testimony went directly to discrediting some of the earlier defense cross examination of IRS agent Ron Sauer. With regards to a Civic Fund payment of $1,026 to Joan Anderson Travel, Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea had intimated that Bernard may not have been in New Orleans in early February 2008. But the IRS had credit card charges for a meal, hotel and some jewelry that proved he most definitely was there in that time frame.
The best word play of the day went to Jim Thomas. Earlier in the trial, Thomas had cross examined agent Sauer about a stay at the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colorado that was paid in part with a Civic Fund check for more than $1,000. The defense lawyer had implied that the former mayor was there to attend a National Conference of Mayors.
Agent Schuch testified today that the IRS subpoenaed the shedules for any possible conference of mayors- they never found a National Conference of Mayors- and none of them listed a meeting in Denver in November 2002.
"Did you ever talk to anyone in the mayor of Denver's office?" Thomas asked a perplexed Schuch.
So it's not a "National Conference of Mayors" but a "conference with the mayor."
Homeless shelter owner Jon Rutherford testified that between 2000 and 2003, he doled out nearly half a million dollars to Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick. And he did it because he wanted to build a huge casino project on the East Riverfront that would have yielded him a payout of $25 million.
Rutherford was sentenced to 21 months on tax charges in January 2011. He could get a reduced sentence as a result of his testimony in the Kilpatrick federal trial.
The witness ran a non-profit called Metro Emergency Services that provided services to the homeless and to the mentally ill. At its peak, MES generated $38 million a year. He also had a for profit business called DPR Management LLC that charged MES rent.
Rutherford testified about various payments he made to Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick. He was initially introduced to Kwame by Curtis Hertel, former Michigan Speaker of the House. The witness told the court how he was so impressed by Kwame's intelligence, drive and ability to interact with people.
"I thought the world of him," said Rutherford.
In a 2 week period in September 2000, Rutherford gave $100,000 to the 21st Century Fund, the Democratic PAC. He said that he donated the money with two clear conditions. The first was that Kwame would be in charge of distributing the funds. The second was that if the Democrats won the state House elections in November 2000, Kwame would get to be the Speaker. If they lost, he would be minority leader. Kwame was ultimately elected House minority leader.
Then came Kwame's mayoral aspirations. Between April and November of 2001, Rutherford supplied Kwame with $184,000 to help make his dreams a reality. Rutherford circumvented strict campaign financing laws by donating to Kwame's non-profit Kilpatrick Civic Fund and the Next Generation Detroit political action committee. He also wrote a series of checks totaling more than $97,000 to Kwame's Community Coalition in the days leading up to the mayoral election.
But that wasn't enough.
Rutherford testified that on election day, he was at a funeral when he got a call from Bernard saying they needed more money. The witness said he met with someone from the Community Coalition to give them a check for $20,000. Because of the late hour, the banks were closed so Rutherford arranged for the check to be cashed at a grocery store.
Even after Kwame was elected mayor of Detroit, Rutherford continued to bankroll him.
First there were the suits. At a May 2002 fund-raiser for Kwame's mother, then-congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the former mayor approached Rutherford for $10,000 to buy suits for a trip to Dubai.
The businessman didn't hesitate for a second. "He's my guy", said Rutherford. "I said 'I'll take care of it."
During a 2002 dinner with the Kilpatrick family at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas, Kwame informed Rutherford that he needed some more cash. Rutherford gladly handed over somewhere between $2,000 to $5,000.
And when a mutual friend called Rutherford and suggested he hire on Bernard as a consultant for $10,000 a month, he again complied. Over an 11 month period beginning in 2002, Rutherford paid Bernard's Maestro Associates $113,000.
All told, Rutherford paid Kwame and Bernard checks totaling $440,275. And that figure doesn't include the $10,000 for the suits, the $2,000 to $5,000 handout at the restaurant in las Vegas or the championship boxing tickets that went for $1,200 a piece (the Lennox Lewis/Hasim Rahman November 2001 title match in Las Vegas).
And what was the goal of the handouts to the former mayor and his father. Did the witness need Kwame for his ambitious East Riverfront casino project asked the prosecution?
"I couldn't have done it without him," conceded Rutherford.
Nearly half a million dollars later, Rutherford's casino project never got off the ground.
Three sisters testified to signing money orders on Bobby Ferguson's instructions in order to circumvent limits on personal donations to Kwame Kilpatrick's mayoral campaign.
Ferguson's former lover Renee Newsome testified along with sisters Josephine Johnson and Darlene Jefferson to being asked to sign money orders in July 2004. The contractor presented each of the women with 4 money orders totaling $3,400. The orders were unambiguously made out to "Kilpatrick for Mayor". The limit for personal contributions to a political campaign is $3,400.