BLOG: After rough first day on offense, Kilpatrick's defense aims to rebound

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with the latest in the Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

1:00--The end: That's all for Montgomery, and for the week.  We'll see you back here on Monday.

12:56--Complaints: Montgomery agrees that some appointees complained about having to give Kilpatrick gifts.

12:55--Gifts: The gifts made to Kilpatrick were used to buy him a Rolex watch and a golf vacation.  Montgomery said she gave Kilpatrick gifts twice a year (Christmas and his birthday), but Kilpatrick gave the staff a gift at least one time that she could remember.

$50 gift cards to Target. 

12:53--Affection: Before leaving the podium, Thomas asked Montgomery if the cash gifts were "a sign of affection for the mayor."

Montgomery agreed. Her initial salary (at the time she started giving gifts) was $32,000.

12:50--Expected: Maybe Jim Thomas wants to take this question back.  He asked Montogomery if staff members gave gifts to Kilpatrick.  She said they did.  Thomas asked if the gifts were required.

"They were expected," Montgomery said.

Department directors were encouraged to give $500, and the amount was $1,000 for cabinet officials. Montgomery said she usually gave $100. 

Keep in mind, Kilpatrick made more than virtually all of his staff and appointees, and had very limited expenses (free house, free car). 

12:43--Next witness: Kizzi Montgomery is the next witness for the feds.  She worked for Kilpatrick in his administration, first in constituent relations (taking complaints from citizens), then in community relations (speaking to the community). 

Eventually, she'd do "advance work" for Kilpatrick in the communications department, like writing talking points for his speeches and organizing events before he spoke to groups.

12:32--Tandy done: We're waiting on the next witness.  Five minute break.

12:28--Feds up: Asst. U.S. Attorney Eric Doeh is up now to cross-examine Tandy. Doeh points out that, for all but one or two years, Kilpatrick's sons played for the Westside Cubs.  But Tandy points out that these checks written to the Cubs weren't for his son's participation fees: they were gifts to the Westside Cubs. 

12:20--Naughton time! Forgot to mention that Tandy is being questioned by Kilpatrick's other lawyer, Mike Naughton.  He always ribs me for mentioning Kilpatrick's attire in this blog, so I should tell you all that Mike is wearing a dark suit, thick-rimmed glasses and a green and white striped tie. 

He's also Clark Kent's doppelganger.

12:19--Very helpful: Tandy is clearly very appreciative of the Civic Fund's donations, calling them severely needed and very beneficial.

12:15--New witness: William Wakefield Tandy is up now.  He's director of the Upward Bound program at Wayne State University, which worked with the Westide Cubs, a football team that Kilpatrick's Civic Fund made thousands in donations to.

Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  Had to do an absolutely frigid live shot outside for our 7 Action News at Noon viewers.  Remember when Kilpatrick wanted to move this trial down to Memphis?  I think we should have listened to him.

11:45--Thomas up: The feds are done with Rayford for now, and Jim Thomas is back up.

11:42--Dissolution: The Civic Fund bylaws say that, upon dissolution, it will donate remaining funds to a non-profit with the same kind of mission.  Bullotta says that would not include giving money to Kilpatrick for his own use. 

11:35--Friend: Rayford acknowledges he doesn't want to see anything bad happen to his friend, Kilpatrick, in this trial.

11:28--Politics: Bullotta is rolling.  He's asking Rayford if he thought the Civic Fund was allowed to spend money on political expenses.  He didn't think it could.  He also said he wasn't aware of, and didn't approve, political polling that was conducted.  Additionally, he wasn't aware of any payment for summer camp for the mayor's sons.

11:26--No approval: Rayford says that Kilpatrick didn't ask the board for approval of payments for yoga lessons, the lease of a Cadillac Deville, and a family stay at the Great Wolf Lodge. 

11:24--Not sure: Under cross-examination from Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta, Rayford acknowledges that he's not directly aware of how the Civic Fund spent money.

11:20--We're back: Thomas is still questioning Erik Rayford, and says he has only one last question.  Essentially, Rayford confirmed that Kilpatrick officially resigned from the Civic fund board in 2001.

10:45--Break time: Looks like there's an evidentiary issue that needs to be handled.  We're going to take a short break. Stay with us.

10:41--No manipulation: Rayford says he had no sense that Kilpatrick ever wanted to manipulate the Civic Fund.

"There was nothing to manipulate," he said.

10:39--Right thing to do: Rayford said that giving money from the Civic Fund to Kilpatrick as he left office was proper, since Kilpatrick had raised so much money for the fund.

"It felt like the right thing to do...using those funds to support him as he was leaving office," Rayford said.

10:33--2008 meeting: Rayford is testifying about a 2008 meeting held at the Manoogian Mansion for the Civic Fund's board. He says the board had to make some financial decisions at this time, as Kilpatrick was about to leave office thanks to the text message scandal.

"We decided to give some funds to the mayor," Rayford said, adding that the fund was about to be dissolved once Kilpatrick left office.

10:30--More gifts: Rayford is being shown an invitation to Kilpatrick's wedding reception in 1995.  On the bottom, it instructs guests: "monetary gifts preferred." 

Rayford also says that Kilpatrick had birthday parties every year.  Again, the defense is trying to tell jurors that Kilpatrick had lots of excuses to receive cash gifts that were perfectly legal. Sometimes, as was the case with his wedding, he even asked for them.

10:27--Within bounds: Rayford says he was concerned about following the rules, and didn't want the Civic Fund to be linked to anything that might put his career in jeopardy.  Thomas wants jurors to ask themselves this: Civic Fund board members were worried about breaking the rules, so why would they do everything the government is alleging? 

10:24--Rules followed: Rayford says that the Civic Fund had a lawyer, William Phillips, whose job was to make sure that the non-profit followed all of the rules.  Rayford says Phillips attended every annual meeting.

10:19--Civic Fund: Rayford says he joined the board of the Civic Fund years ago, and thought it was a good way to get people involved in politics.

"I thought it was a good way to serve the community," Rayford said.

10:18--Next witness: Erik Rayford is the next witness.  He's a longtime friend of Kwame Kilpatrick and served on the board of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  He's a bank examiner, and has been for 19 years. 

Rayford says he volunteered with Kilpatrick's two runs for mayor.

10:17--No questions: Thomas is done, and the government has no questions for Mr. Zainea.  He was, without question, the shortest witness we've had. 

10:15--Wishing well: We're seeing a copy of the invitation to the party (from 2000), which has the words "wishing well" at the bottom.  Zainea says that was a signal to attendees to bring a gift, if they chose.  Thomas says between 200 and 300 people were in attendance.

10:14--New witness: Joseph Zainea is the next witness for Kilpatrick.  He's the owner of the Majestic Theatre Center, an entertainment complex in Midtown.  He's testifying about a 30th birthday party for Kwame Kilpatrick, which was apparently held at the center.

Zainea said the highlight of the party was that he "got to be a babysitter for two young boys," referencing Kilpatrick's sons. 

If I had to guess, I would imagine Thomas will be making a point of how many people were in attendance, and whether they brought gifts.  Remember, the defense claims all that cash that Kilpatrick received while he was mayor wasn't from bribes, it was from gifts (gathered at parties like this).

10:02--Thomas wins: Judge Edmunds says she'd be on firm ground to not allow Thomas to call witnesses that will argue the Civic Fund did good things, but she'll allow it anyway.

"I'm not sure that they're properly admissible, but this is a criminal case, there's a lot at stake.  I'll permit you to do it," she said.

9:57--Argument: It sounds like Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas is arguing to show that some of the Civic Fund's activities were perfectly legitimate.  But Judge Edmunds seems less enthused: if your argument is that Kilpatrick spent money legally 92% of the time, and didn't 8% of the time, that's a problem, she says. 

Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow says proving that you didn't break the law some of the time isn't a proper defense to breaking it at another time. 

9:53--Getting close: Lawyers are present, and currently arguing some evidentiary issues to Judge Edmunds.  The jury is still not inside the courtroom.

9:22--Delay: Not sure what's causing the delay, folks, but some courtroom observers were told that it'll be another 10 minutes or so.  While we're waiting to start, I'll fill you in with some of yesterday's festivities.

I apparently got under Jim Thomas's skin Thursday by asking some questions to his witness Gary Leeman on his way out of federal court.  Leeman is due back to testify on Tuesday, and didn't have any comment outside, but Thomas was furious that I had asked him any anything. 

For the record, there's no prohibition on asking witnesses questions. 

9:05--New witness: We should have a brand new witness for the defense when things finally do get going, and I'm sure they're hoping he or she is better than their last one. Kilpatrick's second witness yesterday, accountant Gary Leeman, felt more like a prosecution witness than one of his own.  Asked by Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta about whether yoga lessons would be a legitimate non-profit expense, Leeman chuckled.

"Not even close," he said.

Remember, Kilpatrick used his non-profit to pay for lots of yoga.  Can you imagine that guy doing the downward dog pose?

9:00--Day 65: Welcome back, folks.  It looks like we'll have another slow start here in federal court, as all the lawyers are back in chambers right now.

Have a question or comment for Ross?  E-mail him at rjones@wxyz.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @RossJones7 or like him on Facebook .

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