Bernard Kilpatrick's shadowy consulting firm a focus in court

DETROIT (WXYZ) - He was laughing outside court today, but inside Bernard Kilpatrick sat stone faced as businessman Jon Rutherford described how he showered the mayor and his father with cash and gifts.

But the biggest benefit for the mayor's dad was a generous consulting contract: $10,000 paid monthly to his company "Maestro and Associates" for consulting work.  All told, more than $113,000 was paid out to the mayor's father by Rutherford, who sought to develop a casino along Detroit's riverfront and wanted the mayor's help.

Maestro was founded just days before Kilpatrick's son took office

"I'm a private businessman. A consultant," Kilpatrick told 7 Action News in 2008.

He was a consultant for lots of companies that wanted to do business in the city. One of them filed suit in 2008, saying after he stopped paying Maestro, the Detroit Building Authority stopped doing business with him.  The case was eventually tossed out of court.

So what did Bernard Kilpatrick do for $10,000 a month?  Rutherford struggled to say today, adding that Bernard produced no work product during his year on the job.  Asked today why he ever hired Kilpatrick, Rutherford said: "I'm a businessman in the City of Detroit.  Wouldn't you like to have the mayor's father working for you?"

Rutherford will return to the stand tomorrow.  Defense lawyers will surely argue his testimony was bought by the government, who may offer him a lighter sentence in exchange for cooperating. 

They'll also likely say that the cash and gifts given to the Kilpatricks weren't bribes, just gratuities from a man who wanted to curry favor with the mayor.

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