And the list of dubious things paid for out of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund charity continues to grow.
Items on that list revealed in testimony today included group yoga sessions at the Manoogian Mansion, contributions towards the out-of-state college tuitions of two relatives, payment to the preschool attended by Kwame Kilpatrick's twin sons and luxury hotel stays in Colorado and California.
Jurors were inundated by the government's interminable laundry of evidence. The first witness on the day, Radmilla Kest, testified that her Center for Yoga received checks totaling almost $4,000 from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund for yoga sessions provided to the former mayor in late 2002 and early 2003. Brian Granader, a yoga instructor, recounted to the court how he would go to Cobo Hall and Manoogian Mansion and teach yoga to a group of 5 to 8 people which included the former mayor.
IRS Special Agent Ron Sauer was called back yet again to divulge further questionable expenses out of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Two out-of-state college payments were made in 2001. The first was for $2,500 to New York University for part of the tuition of Diarra Kilpatrick, Kwame's sister, while a second check for $1,000 was made out to Tennessee State University on behalf of Jamilla Evans, his cousin.
The court also heard about a check for $1,500 issued to Ayanna "Bone" Kilpatrick on February 14th, 2002 and another for $5,000 that was given to A Step Ahead preschool which Mr. Kilpatrick's twin sons had attended. Both checks were also from the charity.
But the really juicy testimony had to do with spa vacations at luxury resorts in Colorado and California. In November 2002, Kilpatrick and then mistress Christine Beatty stayed at the $420 a night Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colorado. While there, the couple indulged in spa treatments including a manicure, pedicure and a gentleman's facial. A check from the Civic Fund was issued to the hotel to the tune of $1,009.40.
In August 2006, the Kilpatrick clan traveled to Carlsbad, California to spend a week at the La Costa Resort & Spa. The Kilpatricks stayed in two rooms at the $625 a night resort and accrued an assortment of costs which included expensive massages and pedicures. A check for $8,605.03 from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund was issued for that particular stay.
The defense faced a tough battle today and Kwame's defense lawyer Jim Thomas acquitted himself well. Under cross examination, Thomas pointed out that Beatty had signed many if not most of the checks that had been introduced from the Civic Fund.
"Did you consider that he (Kwame) might have pre-signed checks?" Thomas asked Sauer. "It's a possibility," conceded the IRS agent.
Thomas also referred the witness back to the Civic Fund's articles of incorporation which stated that the charity could "receive and administer assets for charitable, educational and religious purposes."
In obvious reference to the college tuition payments, Thomas asked "Would you not consider scholarships a charitable donation?" Yes replied Sauer.
In terms of the payment made in June 2002 to A Step Ahead, Thomas said that it couldn't have peen a personal payment for the Kilpatricks as the boys had graduated the preschool in 2001.
As for the luxury hotels, Thomas argued the government hadn't proved that the former mayor didn't have legitimate business and fund-raising reasons related to the Civic fund that warranted the stays.
The last witness on the day was Matt Allen, Kilpatrick's press secretary between 2006 and 2008. Allen recounted how "I got caught with my pants down" when a media investigation revealed that the La Costa stay had been paid in part with a city-issued credit card. In the storm that ensued, city staffers brainstormed ways to diffuse the controversy. Allen proposed bringing forward some of the California donors to the Civic Fund that Kilpatrick had met with.
"What did the mayor think of that?" asked U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta.
"He didn't like that idea," responded Allen.
Defense will begin its cross examination of Allen tomorrow 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.