DETROIT - 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.
9:13AM Much the same as in previous mornings this week, counsel is out of the courtroom and I'm assuming they are in judge's chambers hammering out end of trial details.
Last day of witness testimony before closing arguments in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial and the courtroom is packed. Definite feeling of anticipation in the air.
9:15AM The lawyers are back. This thing is about to start.
9:18AM Judge Nancy Edmunds enters the courtroom.
Judge appears somewhat sentimental.
"February 6th, 5 months to the day", says Edmunds, that individual jurors walked in for jury selection and it is the last day of witness testimony.
CPA Gary Leeman will not be able to finish his testimony due to medical issues. Prosecution has waived need to cross examine and defense has waived need to redirect.
We will be hearing from 2 witnesses today. Gerald Evelyn, Bobby Ferguson's lawyer, has gone to get first witness.
9:25AM First witness is sworn in. Robert G Schneider II is his name. Works for Michigan CAT for 19 years- Caterpillar construction dealer. They sell construction equipment. Ferguson is a longtime client, knows him from about 1994-1995.
Ferguson has bought equipment from his company, several million dollars worth of equipment.
Witness looking over documents handed to him by Evelyn.
Ferguson purchased and rented equipment as well as repairs with the witness's company. And would buy parts- buy specialty attachments, "very innovative", to have advantage on certain jobs. For instance, hydraulic breaker to improve ability to do work. Witness says it would improve productivity.
Witness says that often time Ferguson would rent equipment and then if he liked it he would do 3rd party financing for purchasing.
Witness says the list that Evelyn showed him doesn't reflect everything that Ferguson purchased, per his memory.
Lists number of items purchased, total is $2,294,683.75.
Evelyn talking about Motor City Makeover to clean up the city. Evelyn asks if witness was ever approached to loan equipment for the project. Witness agrees that Ferguson approached him about it.
Witness says they demonstrated equipment for Ferguson. Ferguson picked up Caterpillar loaders: they cost between $600 to $700 to rent one daily.
Witness says that Ferguson got benefit of demonstration because he asked to help clean up the city and Michigan CAT thought it was a worthy cause. Ferguson provided transportation for the equipment: picked it up and brought it back.
Looking at pictures of the equipment. Looking at Caterpillar excavators and loaders. They cost about $40,000 or $50,000.
Looking at a picture of a Volvo piece of equipment that the witness did not even sell him.
Evelyn is done and the prosecution has no cross. On to the next witness.
9:39AM 5 minute break before the next witness.
10:00 AM Defense wraps. Lawyers discuss evidence issues with the judge.
9:50AM Judge Edmunds re-enters the courtroom. The witness is standing right behind Jim Thomas waiting to take the stand.
We believe this might be the last witness.
Steven M. Zervos. Owns insurance agency Zervos Group Inc. Provides all kinds of insurance, including construction. Knows Bobby- relationship started with his father Homer Ferguson.
Witness says that bonding is financial guarantee where as insurance covers exposure to pay the claim. Premium is paid to cover that risk. Bond is financial guarantee to bond the job and if the performance is not completed then bonding company must step in.
Witness says they have provided bonds as agent and insurance to Ferguson's company.
Witness says 2002 to 2008 insurance premiums from Ferguson Enterprises Inc to his company came to $3,668,472.
Bond premium amounts from FEI from that same period of 2002-2008: $309,689.
Witness says at the very end Ferguson was turned down for bonds because he couldn't get any work.
Zervos says that Ferguson did not have one bond complaint on all his jobs is "special."
Xcel insurance premiums paid between 2002 and 2008: $230,921. Bond premiums paid to Zervos Group Inc. for Xcel in that period were $74,272.
Witness's company is Zervos Group Inc. Workers comp, general liability, equipment insurance, property insurance, umbrella liability, auto insurance are all provided by his company.
10:01AM Zervos is done and no cross from prosecution.
Evelyn has no more witnesses. Thomas has no more witnesses and John Shea has no witnesses. No more witness testimony. So now on to evidenciary issues.
Thomas says he has some stipulations. 3 tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001 for Kwame will be introduced by Thomas. Also introducing some trial balances for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, years 2002 through 2007.
Finally, Thomas says that on government exhibit Rutherford 8 being withdrawn. They are putting it in the defense binder- this is the $34,000 check that was mistakenly introduced as having gone to Kwame's PAC and then was withdrawn by the government when the mistake was realized.
Now Shea says he has 3 items. Synagro exhibit 52 that was not published by government and is now withdrawn. 2 Cobo exhibits that Shea introduced through FBI agent Bob Beeckman are being renamed.
Shea pointing out a recorded conversation that came under scrutiny for Beeckman questioning. Says that there was a question of comparative distance between Grand Rapids and Big Rapids and the distance between Flint and Ann Arbor. He is including Google maps to show they are the same distance.
Mike Rataj gets up. Says Ferguson will be admitting a document that came up in cross of Beeckman about a text about Clun Rain. Rataj says they are putting into evidence civil judgment and complaint that Ferguson put against Matt Flynn of Club Rain.
10:09AM Judge accepts them and says she will review them. Reviews what is admitted and what has been withdrawn.
Judge says that before this morning's proceedings she has a matter she needs to talk out of jury's presence.
Judge asks defendants to stand with the attorneys. Says she wants to be sure that defendants are aware they have constitutional right to testify. Don't have to do so. It is their choice alone and encourages them to discuss with attorneys. If they choose not to testify, that cannot be held against them. If they choose to testify, the government has a right to question them and previous convictions can be used to impeach them.
Judge says that she understands they don't wish to testify. Kwame Kilpatrick says he doesn't wish to testify. Bobby Ferguson also states he does not wish to testify. Judge mistakenly calls Bernard "Ferguson". Bernard Kilpatrick does not wish to testify. all understand consequences of their decision.
Have not officially rested yet.
10:15AM Taking 15 minute break and will officially rest when the jury is back.
10:26AM Apparently, one of Jim Schaefer's "Residents of Bloggersville" asked Bernard Kilpatrick his height and shoe size. In case anyone was wondering, he is 6'6'' and wears a size 16 shoe.
But more importantly, seems that the government's closing arguments will be done by US Attorney Michael Bullotta who will speak for about 2 and 1/2 hours. Not sure how long the defense will take but they will definitely be limited.
10:35AM Judge back in the courtroom. Asks if there are any other matters before she brings the jury back. No one has anything.
Jury is seated.
Thomas says the defense rests. Evelyn and Shea rest.
US Attorney Mark Chutkow says no rebuttal.
Judge tells the jury they have been conscientious and taken lots of notes. Lots to go over. Taking the rest of this week to let the lawyers go over their closing arguments. Also have to go over instructions.
Judge says it is her practice to go over instructions before closing arguments so that will happen Monday morning.
The judge says the day will be erratic. Starting Monday we will go full days until jury has deliberated and reached their verdict. Again, commends them for being incredibly conscientious. Instructs them to continue not to listen, see anything or discuss anything that has to do with the case.
10:40AM Jury excused until Monday morning.
Judge says back at 1:00pm for discussion on instructions. Back in court Friday at 10:00am for rulings on jury instructions and Rule 29.
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.
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