In an explosive day of testimony in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial, a government witness testified Thursday that lavish gifts including a case of Cristal champagne and multiple payments as evidenced in audio and video recordings weren't enough to appease defendant Bernard Kilpatrick, who threatened to blow up a deal forged in the basement of Manoogian Mansion if he didn't get what he wanted.
James Rosendall Jr. is a former executive with Houston-based Synagro Technologies, a company that primarily recycles waste sludge.
In 2009, Rosendall pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy and ended up serving 11 months.
Rosendall testified that his dealings with Kwame Kilpatrick dated back to 2001 when he met with the then state representative at "the old green house" behind the capitol building.
The witness described handing Kilpatrick three packs of money containing $3,400 each towards his mayoral campaign.
Rosendall further explained that at the time it seemed that Kilpatrick stood a good chance of being the next mayor of Detroit and that Synagro was interested in a city contract they wanted to take over from a company called Minergy.
Synagro wanted to buy the contract to take sewage and turn it into a glass aggregate. However, in order to be able to generate the projected $47 million a year in revenues, the company would have to make some technological changes to the contract as well as getting a longer term on it.
Synagro's wooing of Kilpatrick included hiring a private jet to the tune of almost $20,000 for a two day trip in September 2003 to Las Vegas to see the prize fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley. Rosendall testified that Kilpatrick was accompanied by aides Jim Sype, Derrick Miller, Ruth Carter and Executive Protection unit member Mike Martin on the trip. The witness described how Kilpatrick kicked one aide, Mike Tardiff, off the trip when he deemed the plane too small to accommodate his entourage.
Rosendall then testified to attending a mayoral fund-raiser that took place in the winter of 2003.
The witness said that when he spoke to the mayor at the party, Kilpatrick indicated to him that there was someone he very much needed to meet. according to Rosendall, Kilpatrick then proceeded to take him to the basement of Manoogian and introduced him to his father Bernard.
"This is the guy I want you to work with on the Minergy contract," said Kilpatrick - according to Rosendall's testimony.
Bernard also encouraged Rosendall to hire on Rayford Jackson as another consultant because he worried about his own proximity to the mayor being an issue.
The witness said the fact that Kilpatrick was urging him to use his father as a point man on the deal wasn't too much of a surprise.
"There was a pay to play thing going on in the city of Detroit," said Rosendall of the rumors he had heard about doing business.
And so the money started flowing not only out of Synagro's coffers but out of Rosendall's own pockets.
The Grand Rapids businessman testified that in the period between 2006 and 2007 he wrote 6 checks out of his personal account totaling close to $36,000.
They included 2 payments of $5,000 to Bernard Kilpatrick, $7,500 to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, $10,000 to the Kilpatrick-affiliated Generations Political Action Committee, $5,000 for the Inaugural Committee and $3,400, the limit on campaign contributions, to the Kilpatrick for Mayor campaign. Rosendall said he kept making payments because Bernard was leaning on him to do so and the witness didn't want to risk jeopardizing the $1.1 billion deal.
In November 2007, the Synagro contract went to vote for city approval. The contract had to be approved by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), City Council and mayor Kilpatrick. On November 20th, City Council approved the contract.
Leading up to the City Council vote, Rosendall paid Rayford Jackson for expenses that included making bribe payments in September and October 2007. One such bribe recipient was councilwoman Monica Conyers.
On November 27th, mayor Kilpatrick signed the contract for approval.
Jurors listened to an audio recording of a telephone conversation that occurred between Rosendall and Jackson that very day.
"It's done," says Jackson on the FBI-intercepted recording.
"So mayor has signed off then?" asks Rosendall.
"Yes, he already signed off. Take care of BK.," says Jackson. Rosendall testified that he took "take care of BK" to mean it was time to pay Bernard Kilpatrick.