Day 4: Kilpatrick steered state grant money that went to wife, friend Bobby Ferguson

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones (TWITTER: @rossjones7) was blogging all the developments to come from testimony at federal court in the Kilpatrick corruption case.  Follow along below:

12:55--Court adjourned: And with that, we're done for the day.  Thanks for joining us.  We'll be back tomorrow at 9AM. 

12:42--Never asked for the money back: Thomas is also pointing out that the non-profit never asked for a refund of the money paid to Carlita Kilpatrick.  Williams says that's because the agreement to hire Mrs. Kilpatrick was made between Kwame Kilpatrick and her boss, Rev. Vann. 

Carlita Kilpatrick never received the second half of the $75,000 state grant.  At one point, Carlita Kilpatrick said she was taking classes and not able to fulfill her duties, Williams said. 

Holding up a pamphlet that described the program Mrs. Kilpatrick pitched to the non-profit, Bullotta asked: "Was there a single kid that was taught any of this by Carlita Kilpatrick?"

"No," Williams responded.

12:40--Sister's job: Raising what he sees as a potential conflict, Thomas pointed out that Williams' sister now works in the same unit of the US Attorneys office that is prosecution Kwame Kilpatrick.  Williams acknowledged that she's talked to her sister about this case. 

12:33--Work for free?: Williams says that Carlita Kilpatrick only offered to work for free (after she failed to provide training) only after Williams' non-profit received more grant money.

"She didn't make that offer until we got more money," Williams said, adding that she believed Kilpatrick would still seek payment.  For several minutes, Williams and Thomas have argued over the meaning of Williams' grand jury testimony on this matter from more than a year ago. 

12:27--Evidence of "a plan:" Thomas introduced pieces of evidence that he says show Carlita Kilpatrick had a plan for how she would contribute to the non-profit's character education program.  Williams, though, isn't so sure. 

"She was well-intentioned," Williams said, but wasn't so sure a formal plan was ever formulated.

12:21--Kind words for Carlita: Williams said she did not look into Carlita Kilpatrick's background, saying she found her to be "thoughtful and intelligent" and believed she was up to the task that the non-profit paid her to perform.

12:12--Cross-examination: Of all the defense lawyers, none have had a more rigorous workout the last few days than Jim Thomas.  Most of the cross-examination by the defense has been conducted by him, and that's no surprise: most of the testimony so far has involved his client, the former mayor.

Thomas is currently questioning Williams, pointing out that Carlita Kilpatrick was college-educated and skilled in conflict-resolution. 

*Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  Had to run out and update our 7 Action News at Noon viewers with a quick live shot outside court. 

11:48--Carlita did almost no work: Williams said Carlita Kilpatrick charged her non-profit tens of thousands of dollars for services she never provided, from character education training to student handbooks.

"This was not a normal grant," Williams said, adding she was upset that the non-profit hired her.

11:38--Carlita paid up front: Normally, Williams said that her non-profit paid contractors only after they submitted an invoice.  In Carlita Kilpatrick's case, though, she was paid half of her contracted $75,000 up front. 

11:35--Conflict in grant's purpose, use: The grant that was requested by and ultimately awarded to Vanguard was to introduce Northside Detroit residents to "arts and culture activities," but Carlita Kilpatrick apparently offered conflict-resolutions services to the non-profit.

11:31--Hire my wife: Williams says that, while she was working at the Vanguard Community Development non-profit, her boss Rev. Edgar Vann told her he had met with Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick.  Kilpatrick "told him that he wanted us to hire (his wife) for $75,000 to provide non-violent conflict resolution services," Williams recalled.

Vanguard received a $300,000 grant from the state of Michigan in two installments of $150,000. 

11:20--Next witness: The government's next witness is Donna Williams, the executive director of the Brightmoor Community Center.  She used to be the executive director of Vanguard Community Development, the non-profit that paid Carlita Kilpatrick.

11:15--Questioning continues: Lannoye continues to be peppered with questions.  She said she was not aware that U.N.I.T.E., Carlita Kilpatrick's company, was a for-profit company.  But she also acknowledged that for-profit companies often are subcontracted by non-profits.

10:40--20 minute break:  Court will resume shortly.

10:36--Others did it, too: Thomas seems

to have found his best defense to Carlita's cash: that at least one other state official helped secure funding that, at least in part, went to a relative. Thomas says that a state representative helped secure funding for the Michigan State Fair, which was run by his brother.

Lannoye acknowledged that the situation involving Kilpatrick and his wife was not unlawful, just unethical.

Thomas suggested that Kilpatrick's company, U.N.I.T.E., taught conflict-resolution to children.   

10:25--Thomas looks for opening: Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas seems to be struggling to find a way to discredit Lannoye on the stand.  He has made references a few times to that fact that these grants were made some 12 years ago and that her recollection of events may be foggy.

"I have a frail memory, too," Thomas said, implying that Lannoye did as well.

The comment seems to have annoyed her, though.  Lannoye had been very polite throughout Thomas's questions, but is now giving very short answers.

10:07--Non-profit controlled by supporter: The non-profit that paid Carlita Kilpatrick is called Vanguard Community Services, controlled by Rev. Edgar Vann.  Vann was historically a supporter of Kwame Kilpatrick, especially during his run for mayor in 2001.

9:57--Kilpatrick asks for Carlita's cash: Lannoye says that grant recipients received half of the grant money upfront.  Lannoye recalls that a year after the grants Kilpatrick requested were awarded, he asked Lannoye for the second-half of the six-figure grant.  Her office asked for documentation to see where the grant money had gone so far, but Kilpatrick failed to supply enough records.  Soon, she found out that some of the money went to Kilpatrick's wife Carlita.

When confronted with the news, Kilpatrick acted like he had done nothing wrong, she said.  Lannoye said she was angry.

"I would have not authorized the contract," Lannoye said. 

"These grants were meant to help a local community.  They weren't meant to go directly to a legislator."

9:46--New witness: Up now is Mary Lannoye who, in 2000, was the State Budget Director here in Michigan.  She's recalling how, while she was on the House floor, Kilpatrick pitched two grants he wanted Detroit non-profits to receive.  It wasn't unusual for legislators to do that, she said. 

9:43--Carlita paid for no work?: Through his questioning, Bullotta has offered a glimpse at what the government will try to prove later on in the case: that Carlita Kilpatrick was paid for implementing some of this grant, but actually did no work. 

9:40--Government takes a swing: Assistant US Attorney Michael Bullotta isn't afraid to throw a punch, and he's doing it right now. 

Reminding DeGrow that these grants are supposed to help the community, he asked, "Do you think the refurbishment of a private demolition contractor's office space would qualify?"

The defense again objected, but this time was overruled by Judge Edmunds.

DeGrow paused, then said, "I can't imagine a circumstance."

"This was supposed to help people in the community," Bullotta said.

DeGrow agreed. 

9:35--Ferguson attorney up: Even though this is an arts and cultural grant, Ferguson attorney Susan Vandusen is pointing out that these arts and culture grants need not just contribute to the arts: they can aide in economic development, help seniors or improve the community in some way. 

9:32--Carlita enters the fray: Thomas has suggested that Kilpatrick's wife Carlita played a role in the grants in question.  Thomas asked DeGrow if it was unheard of for a legislator to push for a grant where a relative benefited from that grant's funding.  He said he could recall at least one other case. 

9:27--President Ferguson: A quick review of state records shows that Bobby Ferguson was the president of Detroit 3D in 2001.  According to the non-profit's state filing, its purpose was to contribute to urban renewal and to provide training in construction jobs.  The grants in question are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

9:22--Kilpatrick's crusader now up: The former mayor's attorney Jim Thomas is up now, and is quick to make the point that Kilpatrick didn't just push for this grant in the state house: he wanted at least 16 others, too.  Thomas is trying to downplay any perception that Kilpatrick was solely out to help his friend Bobby Ferguson. 

9:15--Grant money to Ferguson: DeGrow is testifying that in 2000, Kilpatrick asked that state arts and culture grant money went, in part, to a non-profit called Detroit Three Dimensional Community Development Corporation (Detroit 3D). The non-profit was controlled, at least in part, by co-defendant Bobby Ferguson.

"Did (Kilpatrick) mention that any of the money would go to refurbish Bobby Ferguson's offices," asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta.

9:07--Surprise: Well, we were told Tuesday that we'd begin this morning with Officer Fountain's wife, but instead the prosecution has called former State Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow (R), who

worked with Kwame Kilpatrick in the state legislature back in 2000.

9:02--Tie tally: For those of you wondering, Kwame Kilpatrick has elected to go with a necktie today, bringing the tally after day four to 2 neckties and 2 bow ties. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie.

We expect court to begin any moment.

8:45--Cop's wife up first: Good morning everybody, and welcome to day 4.  When things get going at 9AM, we expect to hear first from the wife of DPD Officer Michael Fountain, who testified Tuesday that he was threatened by contractor Bobby Ferguson to dismiss tickets against him in 2001. Stay with us...we'll get going shortly. News

 

 

 

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