DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with the final day of arguments in as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:
12:00--Thanks: Trial's not over yet, but it's awfully close. Thanks to all of you who have followed this blog so closely since we started it last September. It's been wildly popular and, I hope, just as informative. Thanks for your attention, questions, and critiques. Even you, Jim Thomas.
See you all Tuesday.
11:16--Deliberations: Formal deliberations will not begin until Tuesday--not today--because jurors have asked to be given the rest of the day to review their notes and collect their thoughts. If you're wondering why deliberations won't begin on Monday, it's because it's a federal holiday.
11:00--Instructions: Before handing this case to jurors, Judge Nancy Edmunds is giving her final instructions. The jury's first take is to pick a foreman. Edmunds reminds jurors that their deliberations are private and will not be recorded or listened to.
10:50--Conclusion: Chutkow's final words to the jurors are this: "We wish you the best in your deliberations. And we hand this case to you," Chutkow said.
10:47--Kennedy: Yesterday, the defense urged jurors to act like those written about in John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage." Borrowing a page from their playbook, the feds have their own Kennedy quote they offered to the jury. This one came from Eunice Shriver, Kennedy's sister, who gave a commencement address in the 1960s.
“These are most bitter days, and yet as our leaders stand revealed, we see not evil men, but shallow and pathetic men. The final charge against these men, I think, will not be their savvy deals, their frantic cover-ups. No, it will simply be that having been given the extraordinary power and opportunity to make life better in this nation and the world, they scarcely tried. Their message was grab what you can and run. Let us see if we can make something grow in the desert they left behind.”
10:44--Message to jury: "You together represent the community, and you together can do what is right," Chutkow said.
"(Kilpatrick) was not elected so he could quietly stuff a half-million bucks into his bank accounts," or so Bobby Ferguson could score $83 million in contract, or so his father could become a middle-man on city deals, he said.
10:42--Victims: "Who are the real victims (in this trial)? It's the citizens," Chutkow said.
"The people who pay the taxes. The people who pay the water utility bills. The people who put Mr. Kilpatrick in office...They're the ones who didn't get honest government."
10:39--Timing: It seems like the feds might be suggesting that this document was changed during trial. Obviously, this is a significant allegation to make, and one that I need to find out some more information about.
10:36--Doctored doc: Bobby Ferguson tried to lie to the jury, Chutkow said, and reminded them of a doctored document that the defense had shown the jury weeks ago in trial, then seemed to back off from after the feds questioned its authenticity. The documentation showed that Ferguson showed up to a sink hole in Detroit the day after it happened, but in reality, he showed up months later, said a witness.
10:29--Witnesses: All those witnesses that Kilpatrick's lawyers have attacked? The Kilpatrick's picked all of them (Derrick Miller, Mahlon Clift, Marc Andre Cunningham, Emma Bell, etc.) when they hired them or became their friends, Chutkow said.
10:28--Evidence: Chutkow says the defense can't explain, and doesn't want to explain, two things in this case: the mayor's cash, and all those text messages.
On the cash, Chutkow said this: "There is no way to explain how a public servant has that kind of money…except that he was getting paid off.”
And on the texts: “It’s like a crime scene frozen in time, for you to review at any time that you want.”
10:24--Trustworthy? Chutkow is taking aim at the defense's claim that many of the witnesses in this trial can't be trusted.
"It seems odd that all of these people who are running around city hall...are doing all of this corrupt activity, but never with any of these defendants," Chutkow said.
"There are just too many witnesses saying the same thing."
10:20--Where's the proof? If Bernard Kilpatrick's business as a contractor was legitimate, why was he so often paid with cash, and never presented invoices, receipts or Form 1099's? It's because he knew what he was doing was wrong, Chutkow says, and didn't want to leave a paper trial.
10:18--We're back: Chutkow's closing rebuttal continues.
10:00--Break: Time for a short break.
9:57--Lying: Yesterday, John Shea stressed that Rosendall lied even to his bosses about what he was doing in Detroit. Chutkow says that proves that he knew he was involved in an illegal scheme and didn't want them to know about it. What Rosendall did was wrong, Chutkow says, but he's paid his price for it in jail.
9:56--Taking cash: Chutkow is reminding jurors that, when presented with cash in a public restaurant, Bernard Kilpatrick didn't take it. Later, on undercover camera, he said he didn't trust his girlfriend who was seated inside the restaurant, and said only three people in Detroit would go under the bus for him.
"Two of them are seated at that table," Chutkow said, pointing to Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson.
9:53--Bernard: For the first time today, Chutkow is focusing on Bernard Kilpatrick. He's trying to dispute the defense's claim that government witness James Rosendal (the Synagro VP who wore a wire for the feds) can't be trusted. Chutkow says that Rosendall was stuck between Kilpatrick and his other crooked partner Rayford Jackson, and had to lie to not upset the apple cart.
9:51--Civic Fund: Chutkow says that Kilpatrick owes the Civic Fund more than $500,000 in personal expenses, not the $13,000 that Kilpatrick re-paid in 2009, only after the Civic Fund received a subpoena for fund records.
9:48--Instruction: Under the racketeering charge, Chutkow instructs the jury that they need to only find that one member of the conspiracy committed just two of the charged crimes.
9:44--Sharing: Kilpatrick and Ferguson were "sharing in the spoils," said Chutkow, and Kilpatrick friend Mahlon Clift's testimony proves it. Remember, Clift said he carried $90,000 from Ferguson through an airport to deliver to Kilpatrick.
9:31--Tidal wave: Remember, the defense claims that much of the cash Kilpatrick received came from a birthday party for him called "A Splash of Red," where attendees were expected to wear black with a red accent.
It's insane, Chutkow says, to believe that the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went into Kilpatrick's accounts (beyond his mayoral salary) can be attributed to parties. They came, he said, from businessmen.
"What these contractors were expected to kick in was no splash of red. It was a tidal wave of green," Chutkow said.
9:38--Tacky: Being tacky isn't a crime, but it doesn't help your case if you're a defendant. Chutkow is reminding jurors that Kilpatrick's own appointees, like one who made 1/5 of Kilpatrick's salary, were expected to kick in cash to buy Kilpatrick a gift for his birthday and Christmas parties.
"What these parties show beyond a reasonable doubt is the selfishness of the mayor. It was a one-way street. All for him," Chutkow said.
"If he was wiling to shake down a modestly paid staffer in his office, do you think he had the means to shake down a businessman?"
9:36--$10: The defense's claim that all the money he received came from birthday gifts and other parties is ludicrous, Chutkow says. He's showing one of those checks, for $10, made by an elderly Detroit woman.
"This is someone that probably believed in him," Chutkow said.
9:34--Gifts? Really? Chutkow is showing a chart that I wish I could show you. It shows that in the two years leading up to his administration, Kilpatrick was primarily withdrawing money from his accounts.
"He was acting like a normal person, who wasn't bribed," Chutkow said.
But six months after he became mayor, and for the next 6 years after that, he was only depositing money into his accounts...and lots of it.
9:30--More texts: Ferguson was so tied-in to Kilpatrick that he submitted bids he knew wouldn't win, the feds say, just to create the appearance that he wasn't tight with the administration. Chutkow showed another text message, this one between Christine Beatty and Kilpatrick, when Beatty asked why Ferguson wasn't bidding on a major project.
Christine Beatty: “Why not Bobby in this?
Kwame Kilpatrick: "Bobby wanted to strategically lose a major bid. He will be on this one at bid time.”
"What contractor would spend the time and money on a bid only to lose it, and lose it on purpose," Chutkow said.
"Someone who didn’t really have to bid because they were partners with the mayor.
9:28--More threats: Chutkow is quoting another contractor who testified that Ferguson threatened him when he wouldn't play ball.
“You don’t need to worry about the director (Victor Mercado). Worry about me," he said.
9:26--More orders: Chutkow says texts prove Kilpatrick was being directed by Ferguson. This one was about a project called Baby Creek.
Ferguson to Kilpatrick: Baby Creek, I told you I would call your when I need help, help fucking victor, I don’t need DWSD to set in on the bid opening.
(Note: typos are included as written)
"This is what Ferguson instructed the mayor of the city of Detroit to do," Chutkow said.
“He doesn’t want the water department to sit in on a bid opening? Why do you suppose that is?” Chutkow asked.
9:22--Sharing: “Why is the Mayor of a major city in this country talking about the prices of this contract? Because he was going to share in the prices of this contract," Chutkow said.
9:21--Hold it: Reminding jurors of some of the damaging text messages between Kilpatrick and Ferguson (which were largely ignored in the defense team's closings), Chutkow shows these texts:
Ferguson: You haven't released that contract right?
Kilpatrick: Right, they know I'm holding it.
Ferguson: Using your terms, it's still "cool" with you, I need you to hold it for a long time.
9:19--Walbridge: Some of Chutkow's closing rebuttal echoes what we already heard from his colleague, Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta. He reminds jurors of the "cobbled together" memo written by Walbridge construction officials, promising that if the company was awarded the major city job, they would hire Bobby Ferguson.
"The administration wanted to see that they had taken care of their buddy before they took action," Chutkow said.
9:17--Outfalls contract: Chutkow is taking aim at the defense claim that the $1.7 million Ferguson was paid for no work was, in fact, a settlement between Ferguson and another company that bought out his interest in the work.
"Why did Ferguson give a fake invoice for the first payment of $450,000 there?" Chutkow asked, showing jurors a dummy invoice made out to "Johnson Consulants" (they forgot the "t").
"Because he knew this was an extortion payment and he had to hide it."
9:13--Hypocrites: "Let's talk about the real minority fronts that were used by the defendants to line their own pockets," Chutkow said.
He reminds jurors that Bernard Kilpatrick's old girlfriend and Bobby Ferguson's brother were used to allegedly conceal the real businesses doing city work.
9:10--Bullies: Yesterday, Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn argued that Bobby Ferguson mentored minority contractors. But Chutkow reminds jurors of the testimony of black contractors who testified they had their certifications pulled or bids tampered with as a result of Kilpatrick and Ferguson.
"This is not mentoring," Chutkow said, "this is knee-capping someone that was about to stand on their own."
9:07--Race irrelevant: Chutkow says that, even though Kilpatrick and Ferguson claimed to fight for minority contractors, the facts tell a different story.
"In reality, they were equal opportunity extortionists," Chutkow said, elbowing out black and white contractors who got in their way.
9:05--Let's begin: "In my opening statement in this case, in the evidence you saw at trial, in my colleague's closing statement and in the indictment that will be given to you, this case has always been about bribery, extortion and fraud," Chutkow said.
9:00--Ready to roll: The lectern is facing the jury. The attorneys are ready. The judge has entered the courtroom.
8:45--Finally: After 72 days, more than 100 witnesses and two attorney hospital stays, we're almost there. After a rebuttal closing argument from Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow (set to begin shortly), we expect the jury to finally be given this case.
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