DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with the latest developments in the Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court. WARNING: Today's testimony includes harsh language:
1:00--The end: And with that, we're done for the day. We're back tomorrow morning at 9AM. Leeman actually won't be here tomorrow because of travel plans. His testimony will resume Tuesday, meaning that the defense will start with a brand new witness tomorrow.
12:56--No good: The feds are trying to use Kilpatrick's own witness against him. Bullotta asked him if the Civic Fund used money to pay for yoga lessons, as Kilpatrick's did, would that be an allowable expense?
"Not even close," Leeman said, laughing.
12:46--Gift v. Bribe: Bullotta points out that bribes are, in fact, taxable. Leeman agrees, and acknowledges that he didn't review the testimony of government witnesses who said they paid Kwame Kilpatrick bribes or were extorted by him. Leeman says he can't say for certain that the cash payments that he sees Kilpatrick received were not the result of bribes or extortion.
12:44--We're back: And Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is questioning Leeman.
12:32--Defense done: That's all from Jim Thomas for now. Feds will cross-examine him, but first we're taking a five minute break.
12:29--Sharing: Leeman says it's fair to assume that a husband and wife share cash with one another. So, Thomas's point is that since the feds tracked Kilpatrick's cash from 2002 on, who knows how much cash was around in 2001 and sooner. In other words, Kwame and Carlita could have had a lot of cash on hand before 2002, and the subsequent deposits that happened while Kilpatrick was mayor could have been that cash.
(Note: this goes to the feds' assertions that Kilpatrick didn't declare a lot of the cash income he received, and that a lot of that cash he deposited were bribes).
12:24--Dry stuff: I'm not a juror, but I think it's fair to say that this is some of the most dry testimony we've had in this trial (and from only the defense's second witness). Of greater concern to the defense might be that this is also hard to follow.
12:19--Not taxable: Leeman is acknowledging what's been said before in this trial: that gifts and loans aren't taxable.
12:02--Differences: So far, Leeman has mostly been talking about the differences between a 501c3 and a 501c4. Not exactly like stuffing money into a bra, but this testimony is just as important.
11:51--Been here, seen that: Leeman has been in court for some witnesses, and a read the transcripts of others. So he's up to speed on what's been said in trial, at least as it relates to Kilpatrick's non-profit fund.
11:48--Expert: Judge Edmunds has officially declared Leeman an expert witness. He says he's testified as an expert about 150 times.
11:40--Next witness: Gary Leeman is the defense's next witness. He's a certified public accountant who took seminars in 501c4 groups (like the Civic Fund).
11:33--Govt. up: Bullotta showed Plastiras a Kilpatrick Civic Fund check from that 2009 Marvel Cheeks party. He's reminding the jury that the Civic Fund allegedly paid for things it shouldn't have, like Cheeks' party.
11:31--She's done: Wow, that was fast. Jim Thomas is done and now Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is asking Plastiras questions.
11:29--Big party: Plastiras says that Kilpatrick's 2006 birthday party included 1,500 people and featured hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. My last birthday party, in 1992, included about a dozen seven-year-olds, 2 medium pizzas and gift bags from my mom. Thanks, mom.
11:24--First witness: Jim Thomas, Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer, has called his first witness: Sophie Plastiras. She's the sales director for the International Banquet Center near Greektown Casino.
She's talking about the government's interest in a party held there for Marvel Cheeks, Kilpatrick's grandfather, a few years ago. She's also talking about a birthday part (named "A Splash of Red") that was held for Kwame Kilpatrick at the Atheneum Suite Hotel in 2006.
Apparently the theme of the party was to wear something with a small amount of red.
11:10--Denied: As expected, Judge Edmunds denied the defense's request for a directed-verdict and to toss the case.
10:46--Toss it: The defense will make a request to have the judge toss the case due to lack of evidence. This is a standard request that is almost always made by defense lawyers, and almost never granted. But it HAS been granted before (notably, the Hutaree case) and defense lawyers would be silly not to make it.
The judge won't rule until after the break.
10:44--Govt. rests: Moments ago, the government rested its case. We're taking a 20-minute break and, when it's done, the defense will begin.
10:39--Three trucks: Rataj is showing an order form that documents Ferguson Enterprises' intent to purchase three trucks for $352,203 in September 2007 from Eastern Michigan Kenworth of Dearborn.
A bank document confirms Ferguson received a loan for the trucks. Now we're seeing a picture of one of them. It has some elaborate graphics on it, almost as if Ferguson was trying to make it look like a race car.
10:28--Argument: Rataj wants to argue that Ferguson did purchase trucks for his company. The government acknowledges that he did, but has some questions about the paperwork lining up. Looks like this will be explained better over the next few minutes.
10:18--Legal issue: Looks like the lawyers want to hash out a legal issue. Stay with us.
10:12--Medallions: Ferguson bought at least one medallion from Golden Sun, Rataj says.
10:10--Other checks: Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj is up now, and he's showing other Golden Sun checks from Ferguson Enterprises. They don't have "truck parts" in the memo line, but do say things like "bonus" and other writing I'm not able to make out. They're in some large amounts, like $21,000.
10:06--Whoa: The feds didn't mention this, but I will. Turns out that this Golden Sun store has some criminal history of its own. In 2009, its manager Gary Yee pleaded guilty to money laundering. He had been indicted for allegedly allowing drug dealers to buy merchandise from his story in order to conceal their income. The feds said Yee dealt "under the table" with drug dealers to the tune of $1.5 million over an eight-year period.
9:54--More parts: Another check written from the same day (9/12/03) was also made out to Golden Sun, this one for $9,500, also for "truck parts." They were cashed the same day.
The feds' point seems to be this: the checks to a jewelry store prove that, just because Ferguson writes "truck parts" in a memo line, it doesn't mean he's actually writing the checks for truck parts. So the checks he wrote to himself, they would argue, could have been for anything.
9:50--Truck parts: Well, this is interesting. Ferguson also wrote a check to a Southfield jewelry store called Golden Sun in 2003 for $9,900 and, in the memo line, he wrote "truck parts." But Paszkiewicz says that that jewelry store (like every jewelry store) doesn't sell truck parts.
9:45--Bobby's checks: Earlier this week, the feds made a point of totaling the amounts of cash and checks withdrawn from Ferguson's accounts. Right now, EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz is on the stand, looking at checks she found when she raided Ferguson's offices.
One Ferguson Enterprises check, made out to Bobby Ferguson for $8,500, said "truck parts" in the memo section.
9:31--Not so fast: But the feds fire back, saying that Kilpatrick still, theoretically, had some control over how fast private projects inside the city were handled. For example, Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow just showed a text sent from Bobby Ferguson to Kwame Kilpatrick where Ferguson is talking about the owner of a strip club, Club Rain.
Ferguson: CLUB RAIN, THE WHITE BOY THINKS HE IS SLICK Don’t HAVE ANY REAL MONEY, FEI DID 20,000.00 JOB AND HE Won’t PAY IS IT ALRIGHT IF BLDS SAFETY FUCKS WITH HIS PERMIT.
Kilpatrick: Will call later.
"FEI" is Ferguson Enterprises. Kilpatrick's lawyer Jim Thomas was quick to point out that the mayor never said he would mess with the club's permits in the text message exchange.
9:22--Taking aim: Rataj points out that several projects that the feds mentioned on Tuesday were not city jobs, but private ones. If his client Ferguson was hired for them, it had nothing to do with Kilpatrick or the city.
9:15--Agent up: FBI agent Bob Beeckman is on the stand, perhaps for the last time, and is under cross-examination by Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj.
9:10--McPhail: As my colleague Heather Catallo reported yesterday, a somewhat surprising witness for the ex-mayor has been revealed. It's Kilpatrick foe turned friend Sharon McPhail, who famously acussed the ex-mayor of trying to electrocute her by attaching something to her chair while she was a Detroit City Councilwoman.
Readers, prepare for some shocking testimony. Get it?
9:00--Welcome back: It's day 64 of trial, and it may very well be the final day for the prosecution. After discussing some evidentiary issues with Judge Edmunds, lawyers are sitting down and waiting for the jury to enter the room.
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