DETROIT (WXYZ) - The 7 Action News Investigators are uncovering exclusive new information in the Kilpatrick Corruption Case.
Several of the former mayor’s closest friends and ex-employees are expected to be called as witnesses in the racketeering trial.
The former mayor who was once doing deals with wealthy business leaders now has to worry about what some of those power brokers may say on the witness stand.
And that’s not all – some of the more than 150 expected witnesses are some of Kwame Kilpatrick’s own flesh and blood.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, long-time friend Bobby Ferguson, and former Water Department Director Victor Mercado are all charged with racketeering, accused of running a criminal enterprise.
Millionaire Tony Soave is expected to testify, likely about all those private plane flights he gave Kilpatrick that the 7 Action News Investigators first exposed back in 2008. According to court records, the owner of Soave Enterprises also gave $125,000 to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Soave’s lawyer says his client and others were extorted.
Sources tell us Walbridge CEO John Rakolta is expected to testify. Walbridge is Company W in the indictment, which details alleged extortion attempts from Kilpatrick, Ferguson, and Mercado when Walbridge tried to get water department contracts.
Kilpatrick’s cousin, Nneka Cheeks could also take the stand. She once worked in the mayor’s office, and later pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $20,000 from the Manoogian Mansion Restoration Society Fund.
Another Kilpatrick cousin and former mayoral staffer, Ajene Evans, could testify.
Sources tell 7 Action News that former Kilpatrick Chief of Staff Christine Beatty will not play a role in the trial, but her half sister, April Edgar, may be called as a witness. Edgar also used to work in city hall and was a treasurer for the Civic Fund.
“You never know when you are talking about a witness who’s a relative or a close friend. It puts them in a very uncomfortable position, no matter who calls them. Because they’re going to be subject to cross examination by the other side,” said Channel 7 Legal Analyst Anthony Chambers.
Former Kilpatrick press and media experts Matt Allen, Bob Berg, and Judy Smith may all be put on the stand.
Other names of interest who may be called: Detroit Economic Growth Corporation CEO George Jackson, former City of Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, and ex-Detroit Chief Administrative Officer Lucius Vassar.
7 Action News has learned Bernard Parker III, son of Wayne County Commissioner Bernard Parker, could be called, because he used to work for Ferguson.
And sources say Second Ebenezer Church’s Bishop Edgar Vann is expected to testify about a non-profit that, according to the indictment, Kilpatrick helped obtain state grant money for, and then asked the non-profit to hire his wife. Bishop Vann previously testified in front of the grand jury that later indicted the former mayor and his co-defendants.
Opening statements in the trial are expected to take place next week.
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