Former city treasurer accused of pay-to-play by pension fund businessman

DETROIT - More allegations of pay-to-play are surfacing that involve Detroit's former Treasurer and ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Jeffrey Beasley has already been indicted – accused of shaking down people hoping to do business with the city's pension funds.

Now a businessman from Alabama is claiming in court documents that Beasley demanded 100-grand for Kwame Kilpatrick's legal defense fund back in 2008.

"Mr. Beasley, would you like to apologize to the retirees," 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo asked Beasley last March.

Detroit's former City Treasurer wasn't answering questions after he was indicted on federal extortion charges – and he's still not talking.

The U. S. Attorney in Detroit says Jeffrey Beasley cost the city's retirement system more than $84 million in losses from investments associated with his demands for bribes and kickbacks.

Now, documents filed in federal court for a civil lawsuit are revealing new details about Beasley's alleged shakedown of a billionaire businessman from Alabama.

Beasley is a fraternity brother of Kilpatrick, and as Treasurer, served as a trustee on both pension funds.

Donald Watkins' aviation company had received a $30 million loan from the retirement system.  Watkins says Beasley demanded $100,000 in exchange for a new $15 million loan the pension board was considering.

According to court records, at a dinner in May of 2008 at the MGM Grand in Detroit, Beasley told Watkins that Kilpatrick's "legal defense fund was in need of money, and that Watkins needed to "donate" $100,000…" in cash.

Under oath in a deposition, Watkins said "…it was a demand.  I felt like I was being extorted."

Watkins said after he told Beasley no, his loan got denied.  He went on to say, quote "I was hit on for all kind[s] of favors that were inappropriate, that were unethical, and then when I refused, that's when things changed… I shut down the conversation.  I'd rather lose a company than lose my reputation."

Trade Winds Airlines ended up filing for bankruptcy.  The pension funds are suing Watkins for more than $26 million.

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