Kilpatrick trial: Witness seems to change allegations on the stand

(WXYZ) - A key witness for the government's latest chapter in the Kilpatrick corruption case changed part of his story on the stand Monday.

This was one of those days where they actually questioned four different witnesses. The first witness – Johnson Akinwusi -- seemed to change what he had said last week about whether Bobby Ferguson's employees did any work on a recreation center construction job.

The next witness further appeared to hurt that part of the case when his testimony didn't match Akinwusi's.

On Friday, Akinwusi told the jury in the Kilpatrick Corruption trial that his city contracts stopped after Kwame Kilpatrick became mayor-- until Akinwusi bought Kilpatrick some pricey custom suits.

The former owner of JOA Construction also told the jury that when he partnered with Bobby Ferguson's company, Xcel Construction, Xcel partner Michael Woodhouse didn't do any real work on the $7 Million Heilmann Recreation Center project.

But Monday – Akinwusi said something different: he testified that Woodhouse "did his portion he was supposed to do, to some extent." Ferguson lead attorney Gerald Evelyn also called into question Akinwusi's claims that he stopped getting city work when Kilpatrick took office, getting Akinwusi to admit that he never submitted any bids to get work during that time.

Detroit's former mayor, his father, and Ferguson are on trial, accused of racketeering and bid rigging.

Akinwusi also testified on Friday that he asked the owner of Fashion International in Southfield for advice when he allegedly couldn't get contracts, and said Lanre Alebiosu suggested he pay for some custom suits Kilpatrick already had in layaway.

"The mayor was my customer, we can't talk about our customers," said Alebiosu to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Detroit.

When it was Alebiosu's time to take the stand, he said Akinwusi is the one who brought up wanting to buy a gift for the mayor. Alebiosu says he merely suggested making a payment on the suits in layaway instead of purchasing new items.

Alebiosu did help the prosecution though when he testified that he called Kilpatrick to tell him about the $4790.48 payment that Akinwusi had made on the mayor's suit bill.

Alebiosu also drew laughter from Kilpatrick and Ferguson when he mentioned that Kilpatrick still has an outstanding bill at his store.

"Is he still your customer," Alebiosu was asked outside of court.

"Of course. He's my customer now – he's my friend," said Alebiosu.

Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas also asked Alebiosu if he ever saw Kilpatrick with large amounts of cash – he said no. The successful tailor also described how Kilpatrick always had to make periodic payments for the custom suits, because he couldn't afford to buy them in full.
 

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