Kilpatrick corruption trial nearing the end

(WXYZ) - She was once a political foe of Kwame Kilpatrick, but on Monday she took the stand in his defense.

And there were more than a few surprises when former Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail started answering questions under oath.

McPhail called two key prosecution witnesses liars and made some interesting revelations about how she felt about some of Kwame Kilpatrick's former staffers.

"I was only going to tell the truth, and I wasn't going to make anything up," said McPhail after her testimony Monday.

McPhail responded to many of the government's allegations about her former boss and at times political adversary, Kwame Kilpatrick.

"Do you think Ms. McPhail's testimony helped you today," 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo asked the former mayor outside of federal court.

"We'll see," said Kilpatrick.

After McPhail lost the mayoral primary in 2005, she threw her support behind Kilpatrick and later became his general counsel. On Monday, she backed up the defense theory that Kilpatrick received a lot of cash gifts – by describing how staffers in the mayor's office would collect money for his birthday. 

McPhail said as a cabinet member, she gave him $1000 – saying "We put the money together in a big ball and gave it to him." 

"I haven't listened to the evidence. I think the whole RICO thing is a little rough to try to convince people – you know that's about, that's mafia, come on! I don't know - I didn't see of anything of that nature," said McPhail.

McPhail called star prosecution witness and former Kilpatrick co-defendant Derrick Miller a liar. Miller testified that he gave cash bribes to the former mayor. Outside of court Monday, she told reporters her original opposition to Kilpatrick started because Miller tried to extort her.

"Derrick, first of all -- he misled me. The whole business about me having a bad opinion of the mayor at first, had to do with Derrick Miller telling me that the mayor told him to do something, which the mayor never told him to do," said McPhail.

She also says she thinks former Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell was lying when she described giving thousands of dollars in cash kickbacks to the mayor.

"I can't imagine Emma Bell giving money to anybody!!!  That's not the way that worked," said McPhail.

McPhail smoothly answered all of Kilpatrick's lawyer's questions and then Assistant U. S. Attorney Michael Bullotta stunned several people when he stood up and said he had no questions for her. Many had wondered if the government would ask about McPhail's claim from years ago that Kilpatrick tried to electrocute her. McPhail thought the feds declining to cross examine her was a smart move.

"It's a real risk. To attempt to embarrass a witness who has been straightforward and truthful, and they would not have liked it – I wouldn't like if someone did it," said McPhail.

We also learned that McPhail told Kilpatrick she would only work for him if she did NOT have to report to Christine Beatty.

She was asked if she planned to run for mayor again – she said absolutely not, and said she'd rather work at McDonald's than ever be on the city council again. 

Meanwhile, the jury can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Kilpatrick Corruption Trial..

More than five months filled with drama and more than 80 witnesses later--Judge Nancy Edmunds is telling the jury in the Kilpatrick Corruption trial that testimony could finally finish on Wednesday.

"I feel like I'm 10 years younger!  And it's great – to be able to say that after 5 ½ months, that we're coming to a close," said Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer, Jim Thomas.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. We're just getting ready to do closing arguments. And put it in the hands of the jury," said Bobby Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj.

Both sides are preparing their closing arguments for their last ditch efforts to convince the jury to either convict Kwame Kilpatrick, Ferguson and Bernard Kilpatrick – or acquit them. But don't expect either the prosecution or the defense to reveal their strategy for the crucial closings.

"Do you think Jim Harbaugh called up his brother and said we're going to pass the first 15 plays and run the next 5 – I mean come on," said Rataj outside of federal court.

On Monday, Ferguson's lead attorney Gerald Evelyn called two contractors to testify. The first – Theo Simmons, who's brother owns E&T Trucking. Simmons testified that Ferguson helped their company get on their feet – which backs up a defense argument that Ferguson was interested in helping other minority contractors in Detroit.  Prosecutors have portrayed Ferguson as a ruthless business man who put other contractors out of work.

Next, Evelyn called former Ferguson Enterprises employee Lewis McVay as a witness. During testimony earlier in the trial from the owner of A&H Contractors -- Thomas Hardiman – the defense had suggested Hardiman's crews messed up a job on the east side – resulting in a massive water main break. 

McVay reinforced that story,

telling the jury on Monday that Ferguson Enterprises had fix the water main.
But when Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Chutkow showed McVay text messages between Kilpatrick and Ferguson in which Ferguson seemed to be mocking a former boss and friend of McVay's for losing city business – he said if he had known about that, he wouldn't' have liked it.

"All we're trying to do is plug some holes, and give the jury a different perspective on some issues that came up during the trial.  But we've been poking holes in their case from day one," said Rataj.

There are only a few witnesses left to be called – again the judge anticipates being done with testimony on Wednesday--taking a few days to take care of some motion arguments. Closing arguments right now are scheduled for Monday.

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