Day 13: Kilpatrick used charity funds to pay his father, stay at luxury resorts

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged from federal court downtown. Follow along below:

1:00--The end: That's all for today, and this week.  There's no court tomorrow or Monday, so we'll be back Tuesday.  Both sides probably could use a little rest from court.  Thanks for joining us.

12:59--Personal check: Under cross-examination from lawyer Jim Thomas, Kilpatrick eventually paid for the furniture with a personal check, Fleming said.

12:54--Fleming talks to lawyer: Fleming said she spoke with William Phillips after she received the Civic Fund check.  She knew Phillips was the lawyer for the Civic Fund.  Fleming told Phillips about the check mix-up Kilpatrick had described.  She says Phillips responded that  he would talk to the mayor because he shouldn't be using those funds, she said.

12:49--Nneka Cheeks enters: Fleming said that Kilpatrick's cousin, who was on the Restoration Society's board, asked her to sign checks from the charity's checking account.  Asst. U.S. Attorney Eric Doeh is suggesting that Cheeks used funds from the Restoration Society to pay for gifts from Toys R Us.

12:43--No thanks, Mr. Mayor: Fleming received a $10,000 check from the (wanna guess?) Civic Fund.  When she called Kilpatrick to say the Restoration Society wouldn't accept a check from the Civic Fund, Kilpatrick apologized and said that April Edgar must have written it from the wrong account.

12:41--Edgar's special treatment: A man who said he was Edgar's husband pulled up to a U.S. Marshall outside federal court, saying he was here to pick up a witness in the Kilpatrick case.  He instructed the Marshall to call FBI agent Bob Beeckman to verify.  The Marshall made a phone call, and then directed the driver (Edgar's husband) to go to the Washington Street exit.

A blue car came out, and dropped off Edgar.  She got in her husband's Lexus and drove off.

12:40--Buying furniture: When they left the mayoral mansion, Fleming said the first-family asked to buy some of the furniture that the restoration society supplied the family at the mansion.  The furniture was appraised, and the Kilpatricks agreed to pay for it.

12:35--Manoogian Board Member: Fleming sat on the board for the Manoogian Mansion Restoration Society, a non-profit that ran into trouble when it was learned the former mayor's cousin Nneka Cheeks was stealing from the fund.  She was convicted, but only received probation.

Expect some questions about payments made to the fund by the Civic Fund. 

12:33--Next witness:  Today's third witness is Mary Fleming.  I have no earthly idea who she is, so we'll all be learning together.

12:24--Short break: Stay with us.

12:20--Bernard didn't know: Shea asked Edgar if Bernard Kilpatrick knew that his hotel was booked with Civic Fund money.  She said she had no knowledge about how the hotel was booked.

12:13--More cross-examination: John Shea, who represents Bernard Kilpatrick, is quizzing Edgar about expenses paid by the Civic Fund which benefited his client. Shea says one of the hotel rooms reserved for Bernard Kilaptrick was never occupied. 

12:00--"Educational activities are part of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund--even for Kilpatrick's own children?" Kilpatrick's attorney asked Edgar if she was aware whether the Civic Fund could not be used for Kilpatrick's sons. Edgar said she was not aware. Just to remind our readers, a check was written for $4500 from the Civic Fund to send his kids to camp.

11:56--Could the Civic Fund be used for "transition costs?" In other words, could the Civic Fund be used to move Kilpatrick's family and personal belongings when he resigned from office.

11:47--"Detroit, Then and Now: Thomas is asking Edgar about a several page glossy flyer that was sent out to Detroiters in 2008, with several photos of himself, Carlita and their children. Beatty was in charge of helping improve Kilpatrick's image and this was one of those attempts. The Civic Fund paid for this flyer. I recall, having reviewed one in 2008, the flyer contained 11 photos of Kilpatrick.

11:45--"It was hard." That is what Edgar said about working for her half-sister Christine Beatty. She said that she worked long hours.

11:44--Avoiding specifics: So far, Thomas has avoided going after specific payments that the prosecution has brought up.  He's asking more general questions. 

11:42--"Sad, very sad:" Perhaps Thomas wants to use Edgar to elicit some sympathy towards his client.  He is asking her about the tension and mood inside the mayor's office when it became clear Kilpatrick was going to resign. Edgar appears very somber in her description of the the difficult times around the office.

"It was sad, very sad," she said.

11:36--An honest man: Thomas is using this time to let Edgar paint a picture of Kilpatrick as a boss.  She said he was an honest man that she never suspected would do anything wrong. 

11:31--Give the man a massage: Jim Thomas is up to cross-examine Edgar, but I can't help but

feel bad for the guy. The government has unloaded on his client all morning; where does Thomas even begin? He could surely use one of those nice rub-downs that the mayor fancied. Stay tuned.

11:30--Manoogian Mansion Restoration: A $10,000 check was cut to the Manoogian Mansion Restoration society, a non-profit that Kilpatrick's relative has been convicted of stealing from. This nugget could prove interesting and possibly very damaging down the road, folks.

11:29--She benefited, too: Edgar disclosed that she too used the Civic Fund to pay for a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge for a family trip.  She said Kilpatrick told her it would be okay.

11:27--New gig: After she left Kilpatrick's office, Edgar was hired by Xcel Construction, a company linked to Bobby Ferguson and owned by his friends.

11:26--Post-prison party: At a party held after he got out of prison, Kilpatrick gave Edgar $3,000 to 4,000 in cash to pay off his credit cards.  She did.

11:23--Kilpatrick ran the show: Edgar said that, while she was with the Civic Fund, the charity was run by Kevin Kitchen, er, Kwame Kilpatrick.  He often inquired about the balance left in the fund's coffers, she said.

The defense has insisted that Kilpatrick had no power over the fund.

11:22--Party time: A $2,500 check was cut to the Atheneum International Banquet hall for what the U.S. Attorney is suggesting was a party for Kilpatrick's father, Marvell Cheeks. 

11:17--Consulting for a friend: $5,000 was paid to Kilpatrick's friend DeDan Milton in November 2008.  It's not clear what consulting Milton did, though, because the mayor was in prison by that time.  Edgar doesn't know what Milton did for the money.

11:16--Great Wolf Lodge: See!  Children did benefit from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  Their names were Kilpatrick, Edgar said, but children nonetheless!  $1,200 was paid by the Civic Fund for a four-night stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Texas, an indoor water park.  It included a payment to "Camp Critter," a kids camp. 

The reservation was made under the name "Carla Kitchen," which the first-lady used as an alias.

11:12--Rent for a pad: Kilpatrick told Edgar to pay more than $3,000 to a property management company for a property he was renting after he moved out of the Manoogian Mansion.  More than $2,000 was a security deposit, she said.

11:10--Moving to Texas: A $5,000 check was cut to a moving company on September 16, 2008, just days before Kilpatrick left off.  Another check for $2,000 was cut three days later.  For those keeping score, the Civic Fund doesn't mention moving the mayor's furniture from Michigan to Texas as on of its charitable purposes. 

11:08--End of the line: Edgar recalls how, near the end of his time as mayor, Kilpatrick called a meeting where he said the Civic Fund would be making donations to various charities (that he did not name), and would also pay for his family's moving expenses. 

11:05--Hard to keep up: Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is delivering a  blistering assault on the former mayor and his charity.  For more than an hour, he has shown check after check after check paid for by the Civic Fund to fancy hotels (he just showed one for $3,750 to a posh Gaylord Texan Resort), summer camp for his kids, car rental companies, airlines and more.  It's somewhat of a "shock and awe" approach, giving the jurors what appear (at first blush) to be a parade of purely personal expenses made over the course of several years.  The prosecution's argument here: Kilpatrick used this charity as his personal piggy bank from day one.

11:00--The friendly skills: Almost $1,400 was paid to Northwest Airlines by the charity for flights for the mayor's three sons, Edgar said.

No word yet on whether the boys were traveling for a fundraiser.

10:55--Cars for lawyers: Shown more checks by the U.S. Attorney, Edgar said she cut an almost $900 check from the Civic Fund to Avis Car Rental to cover automobiles for Kilpatrick's lawyers. A $745 check was cut the next month, another for $762 a month later, and $850 the final month.

10:30--20-minute break: Stay with us.

10:28--Room for dad: Four rooms were booked at a Texas Hilton hotel in November 2008 for (at least) Carlita Kilpatrick and Bernard Kilpatrick.  Edgar said she doesn't know why the Civic Fund paid for the mayor's father to stay in Texas.

10:23--$5,000 at the Hilton: Before he resigned as mayor, the Civic Fund paid more than $5,000 to a Hilton Hotel in Texas. 

10:20--Bobby benefited, too: Edgar says that the Civic Fund paid for a "Wesley Ferguson" to stay at a Southfield hotel.  Wesley is Bobby Ferguson's middle name.

10:17--Carla Kitchen: Kwame Kilpatrick wasn't the only one with an alias when he traveled.  Carlita Kilpatrick went by "Carla Kitchen," Edgar testified.  She used that name when she went to a Texas Marriott hotel for a few days.  That stay was paid for by the Civic Fund, too. 

10:15--Crisis management? Edgar cut a $30,000 check to Impact Strategies, a company owned by crisis-manager

Judy Smith.  She was hired by Kilpatrick in the fallout from his text-message scandal.  Another check for $25,000 was made out to Impact Philanthropy. 

Again, she says Kilpatrick told her to.

10:12--Feeling uneasy: Edgar said she began to feel uneasy about writing checks to Bernard Kilpatrick's company near the end of her time with the charity.

10:09--Money to Dad: On May 1, 2008, just months before he resigned as mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick directed Edgar to cut a $30,000 check to Bernard Kilpatrick's company, Maestro and Associates.

"They mayor told me to," she said again.

Later in October, she cut another check for $20,000.  She doesn't remember if she was told to write the checks by Kwame Kilpatrick or his sister Ayanna.

10:08--Mayor Kitchen: Kilpatrick traveled under the name "Kevin Kitchen," Edgar says, to avoid media detection.

10:05--"The mayor told me to" Edgar said she cut a $4,500 check to "Super Camp" in April 2008. The camp was for Kipatrick's sons and the son of Jeff Beasley, a Kilpatrick friend and appointee. 

10:02--Another check to a resort:  Edgar is talking about another check she cut for Kilpatrick to a luxurious hotel.  This one for the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, North Carolina for nearly $1,000. On the hotel bill?  Two $108 spa visits, and one $252 spa visit.

10:00--The finer things: Kilpatrick is looking at a receipt for his $215 spa treatment.  It included a manicure and a 50-minute deep-tissue massage.  Sitting in the chilly courtroom, I bet Kilpatrick couldn't feel more removed from the good old days.

9:55--Four Seasons Hotel: From the sounds of it, Edgar didn't question the mayor when he wanted a check from the Civic Fund.  He told her to cut a $1,150 check to the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, Texas in 2008.  She did.  A hotel bill from the Four Seasons shows charges for a $215 spa and salon treatment, in-room dining and valet parking.

9:51--Why was she paid? This hasn't been brought up in testimony, but back in 2010 when news of Christine Beatty's $110,000 payment became public, the defense put out by Beatty's lawyer and others was that she was paid to produce a brochure for the charity.  But the government just showed a number of large Civic Fund checks, presumably for producing a brochure, made out to printing companies.  The checks total nearly $200,000.   

9:47--Doesn't know why paid: Edgar said she doesn't know why her sister was paid more than $100,000 from the Civic Fund after she left the mayor's office, but said Kilpatrick approved both payments. 

That's interesting testimony, as Kilpatrick's lawyers have argued their client had no control over the Civic Fund after 2002.

9:45--Big payment for Beatty: After she resigned from Kilpatrick's administration in 2008, Christine Beatty was cut two checks by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund just a few weeks later.  The checks were made out to Maiyen Consulting LLC, a company owned by Beatty, and totaled $110,000.  One of the checks was signed by Christine Beatty and Kandia Milton, her replacement at the mayor's office.

9:41--Signer for the Civic Fund: Edgar said he was asked by her boss, Kwame Kilpatrick, to take over her sister's role as a signer for checks on the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  She said he told her the fund was for "community and educational purposes," and she agreed to take on the new role.

9:40--Kilpatrick's scheduler: Edgar said she was Kilpatrick's scheduler while he was still the mayor. 

9:35--Beatty's sister: April Edgar, the sister of Christine Beatty and a board member for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, is now up on the stand.  Even though she was on the board, Edgar told 7 Action News in 2010 that she didn't know what the Civic Fund did.

"I really don't even understand that the Civic Fund is for," Edgar told 7 Action News in 2010.

9:33--Misled by Kilpatrick? Allen said he felt like Kilpatrick only told him what he thought he needed to know about the La Costa trip.

"There was incremental disclosure," Allen said, adding he felt he "had gotten burned."

9:30--"Wheels fell off:" Allen said the mayor's relationship with the media never got better after the La Costa story.  In fact, it got worse.  He said the "wheels fell off" after a jury returned a $9 million dollar verdict against Kilpatrick for his role in the firing and demotions of two police officers.

9:27--"No disclosure:" Allen recalls how, at a press conference following the La Costa scandal, the mayor's staff was urged to disclose the donors to the Civic Fund.  Allen said no disclosure was made.

He admits he knew almost nothing about the Civic Fund, other than existed.

"In hindsight, I wish I would have asked a lot more nosey questions (of Kilpatrick)," Allen said about the trip. 

9:23--Beat the press: Here we go again.  Allen, prompted this time by Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas, is discussing a 7 Action News investigation that exposed the $8,600 California resort trip taken by Kilpatrick.  Like yesterday, Allen is alleging that a WXYZ-TV reporter

posed as Kilpatrick to obtain a bill from the lawyer, an allegation which was denied vehemently by the reporter.  Allen said Kilpatrick urged for criminal charges to be brought against the reporter.  There were none.

9:21--Saw Emma Bell with cash: Allen says he once saw Emma Bell with large amounts of cash in New York City, which he presumes was her cash.  He never witnessed Bell giving Kilpatrick cash, but said they did have private meetings.

Earlier in this trial, Bell said she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 in kickbacks over a period of six years.

9:15--"Wonderful relationship:" Allen still has a soft spot for Kilpatrick, saying the former mayor allowed him to do things that other press secretaries weren't allowed to do, like sit in on budget meetings. Calling it "a wonderful period of time in our city's history," he said Kilpatrick was a great mayor who worked 7 days a week and woke up early each day for work.

9:12--Bernard's lawyer is up: Ann Arbor lawyer John Shea, who represents Bernard Kilpatrick, is the first up from the defense to cross-examine Matt Allen.  So far, he's just asking Allen about Kilpatrick's decision-making and style as mayor. 

9:07--Tie tally: Well, this is a lead even Jose Valverde couldn't give up.  Kilpatrick's got another necktie around his neck, bringing the total to 10 neckties and only 4 bow ties. 

9:01--More of Matt: Good morning everybody.  We're expecting to hear more from Matt Allen today, Kilpatrick's former press secretary.  Yesterday he testified about his knowledge of a trip (first called personal, then called professional, then called both) paid for by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  The trip was exposed by 7 Action News in 2007. 

Matt Allen is one of the more unpredictable press secretaries I've ever encountered here in Detroit.  During his short tenure with Kilpatrick, press conferences often turned into shouting matches, he threatened more than a few reporters (myself included), and he got into some legal trouble of his own. Allen was charged with assault after his wife said he pushed her head against a window during a drunken rage.  He later pleaded guilty to domestic violence. 

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