DETROIT (WXYZ) - The 7 Action News Investigators were the first to show you that a powerful Detroit business man was paying for private jet trips and ritzy vacations for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
That business man is Tony Soave. Now new details are emerging about some of the items that were allegedly extorted from Soave.
Courtside Pistons tickets, shopping trips to New York City, and those infamous private plane flights that the former mayor was once so fond of… Those are just some of the items detailed in a recent filing in federal court that alleges what Soave had to hand over to get and keep his city contracts.
As federal prosecutors prepare their case against what they call the Kilpatrick Enterprise - the former head of the water department doesn’t want to be tried alongside Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson.
In federal court records, Victor Mercado’s attorney says his client never accepted a single bribe or illicit payment, and had no incentive to conspire with anyone – he was simply making sure water kept flowing to the citizens.
As part of his arguments that Mercado should be tried separately – attorney Martin Crandall is revealing new details of some of the alleged extortion in the racketeering case – extortion he says had nothing to do with Mercado.
In the past, we’ve heard about alleged extortion of other business owners and leaders – but this new court filing connects the dots of the pay-to-play claims to a wealthy Detroit businessman.
The filing details the things that Tony Soave, owner of Soave Enterprises, told federal agents that he allegedly had to do to get and keep his lucrative city contracts.
According to the court records: Soave donated $125,000 to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund; he helped Christine Beatty get good lease terms for a Land Rover; he gave Kilpatrick $10,000 in courtside Pistons tickets; access to Soave’s private boat, and took the former Mayor on two shopping trips to New York City. Crandall writes Soave also gave Bernard Kilpatrick a $6,000 watch, along with other gifts for the former mayor’s family – including a luxurious trip that 7 Action News first told you about in 2008.
Soave’s name was on the Kilpatrick’s family’s bill for a nearly $10,000 stay at one of the nicest hotels on Florida’s gulf coast: the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. At the time Soave, would not answer our questions.
“You are doing business with the city,” Soave was asked in 2008.
“ Yeah,” said Soave.
“And you want to do more business with the city, is that right,” Soave was asked.
“Yeah, I do,” said Soave.
“Is that a way to get it, would be the question,” Soave was asked.
“I’ll have to look into it and see,” said Soave.
Now we know Soave’s did answer the FBI’s questions about that trip. Soave wouldn’t tell us back in ’08 whether he flew the mayor to Naples, but Kilpatrick’s indictment alleges a Naples private plane ride at the same time of the Florida vacation, and lists at least 18 private jet trips from Soave’s company that were provided to the former mayor.
Soave’s lawyer, Tom Green, points out that federal prosecutors have said Soave and other business leaders were extorted by Kilpatrick – and Soave is not charged with any crime.
Green also tells 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo that Soave is cooperating with the federal investigation.
So far there’s no response from Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer about these new allegations.
As for Victor Mercado, it’s not clear yet whether he’ll be granted a separate trial.
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