Key witness testifies for second day in Kilpatrick corruption trial
6:41 PM, Jan 8, 2013
(WXYZ) - The government's star witness spent another full day on the stand in the Kilpatrick corruption trial. The feds are using Derrick Miller to try to tie up some loose ends in the case.
Miller painted a picture of an administration worried about the feds and eager to help their friends gets lucrative contracts.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his friend Bobby Ferguson are on trial, accused of running a criminal enterprise out of city hall. Miller was the once the city's Chief Administrative Officer, and took a plea deal in the corruption case in exchange for his testimony.
"Its never easy for him to testify about people he's known, and been close with throughout his adult life – but he's doing what he has to do. Is it easy? No. But, he's manning up to the task at hand," said Miller's attorney Byron Pitts.
Miller told the jury that several Detroit contractors complained to him over the years about Ferguson edging them out of city business. Text messages between the former mayor's sister and Miller showed that even Ayanna Kilpatrick was frustrated with Ferguson because clients from her consulting business could not get work.
Miller told the jury that at Kwame Kilpatrick's direction – he would tell contractors they needed to include Ferguson in their bids. This 2003 text message from Ferguson to Miller indicates the mayor's friend was getting inside information on other company's bid scores for the water departments' Contract 748, known as the Baby Creek project.
"I need for you to talk to Audrey Jackson purchasing, PC 748, Baby Creek, before she announces her decision, to give it to you first."
The feds also seem to be using Miller to back up testimony from other witnesses who said their contracts were cancelled or payments were held up unless Ferguson was included. Again, Miller said those things were done at Kilpatrick's direction.
"This is the person who connects all those other dots. And so in that regard, he can be an important witness if the jurors believe him," said former federal prosecutor Peter Henning.
Miller also testified about private plane rides from local businessmen.
In this text from Kilpatrick to Miller on one of Kilpatrick's first flights on Tony Soave's jet – Kilpatrick wrote: "This private plane is the s**t."
Miller also described vacations to places like Bermuda and Las Vegas that he took with Kilpatrick and his inner circle.
Miller showed little emotion as he steadily answered questions for hours. He seemed to answer "I don't recall" a bit more on Tuesday– but his lawyer says that indicates Miller is telling the truth.
"There's some things he knows and some things he doesn't know – it's a sign of his veracity his commitment to say exactly what he knows – and limiting his comments to what he knows, shows he's not any kind of yes man for the government," said Pitts.
Miller also said that Kilpatrick at one point told him to fire one of the directors of Cobo Center, in part because they suspected he had been cooperating with feds.
And Miller testified that when he left his job at the city in 2007, he assured Kilpatrick that he wasn't talking to the FBI or wearing a wire, and said that he has never worn a wire.
The government is still questioning Miller, and then he'll face some very rigorous cross examination from the defense when court resumes on Thursday.