DETROIT (WXYZ) - Kwame Kilpatrick heads back to court Tuesday for the federal corruption case – and now his lawyer is asking a judge in a different case for information about a witness – bringing the next chapter of the historic case to light.
They’re looking for anything they can to go after a man named Jon Rutherford, who’s expected to take the stand for the government soon.
Federal prosecutors say Kwame Kilpatrick and his father Bernard Kilpatrick solicited and took bribes totaling more than $500,000 from this man.
According to the Kilpatrick Enterprise indictment, Jon Rutherford gave thousands to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, gave Bernard money for Kwame’s campaign expenses, and even gave them tickets to a heavyweight boxing match in Las Vegas.
The feds also say the former Detroit mayor asked Rutherford for $10,000 in cash for spending money when Kilpatrick visited the United Arab Emirates in 2002.
“This is where the case goes to the next level, that no longer is it playing fast and loose with the Civic Fund, and lots of cash in shoe boxes and things like that. Now it’s bribery and extortion,” former federal prosecutor Peter Henning told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
Henning says Rutherford’s alleged bribes will be key to the next step of the case.
“It is misuse of office – and that’s really the core of the government’s case, that the former mayor and the co-defendants operated the mayor’s office, the mayor of the city of Detroit, for their own personal benefit,” said Henning.
The feds say in exchange for the bribes, Kilpatrick took several official actions to further Rutherford’s river front casino development plan.
But Rutherford does not come to the witness stand without baggage. He’s one of many expected to testify who have taken plea deals with the feds.
The 63-year-old was president of Metro Emergency Services, a Highland Park homeless shelter and he has pleaded guilty to income tax evasion. Federal prosecutors asked that Rutherford do less prison time in exchange for his cooperation in the Kilpatrick case.
The judge gave him 21 months -- but Rutherford still hasn’t reported to prison, and now Kilpatrick’s attorney, Jim Thomas, wants to know why.
Thomas filed this motion with the court – asking to see all correspondence between lawyers and the court about the delay.
Rutherford’s lawyer, Steve Fishman brushed off the request, saying: “The reason it’s a stupid question is this happens routinely in federal criminal cases. Defendants are granted extensions in their report date until they complete their cooperation. And that is precisely what happened in this case.”
Legal experts say if Rutherford’s testimony really helps the feds – he could get even less than the 21 months he’s already facing.
Meanwhile, several more people are expected to testify this week about what the donations to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund were spent on. Look for possible testimony from Washington D. C. based PR expert Judy Smith, who the former mayor hired during the text message scandal. Also former Civic Fund attorney William Phillips has been mentioned many times in court already – his turn to take the stand could be approaching.
A federal judge is holding a hearing Tuesday afternoon to decide what, if anything, about Rutherford should be turned over to Kilpatrick’s defense lawyers.
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