Day 7: State official says Kilpatrick phone call "startled" him

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged from federal court as testimony continued in the Kilpatrick corruption case. Follow along below:

1:10--Finished for the day: We started late, so it's only fair that we finish late.  Thanks for joining us at WXYZ.com.  We'll be back tomorrow morning at 9.  Continue to send in your questions or comments, my e-mail is rjones@wxyz.com.

1:05--Only part of the message: A text message doesn't convey the author's inflection or other moods, Naughton suggested.  Oshinsky agreed.  Perhaps the defense will argue that some of the messages that will become evidence could be open to interpretation, and shouldn't be taken at face value.

1:01--Challenging texts' authenticity? It seems that attorney Michael Naughton may be laying the ground work to question the authenticity of the text messages that may enter this case, or at least raise some doubt about them.  Judge Edmunds said this issue was already addressed in an earlier ruling, where she sided with the government, but Naughton wants to explore it further. She's giving him some slack.

12:48--Cross-examination: Asst. US Attorney Chutkow sat down without quoting from any text messages. It's likely he was just laying the foundation for how messages are stored and the fact that they can't be altered once they're provided to an agency, like the FBI, in case the defense tried to argue they're doctored.

Lawyer Mike Naughton, who also represents Kilpatrick but has yet to be heard from in this trial, is now cross-examing Oshinsky.

12:43--Archiving procedures: So far, Oshinsky is just talking about how Skytel archived text messages for customers, and how it went about supplying them later on if they received a request from that client, or a subpoena.

Assistant US Attorney Mark Chutkow said that the feds subpoenaed messages from Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson, Christine Beatty, Bernard Kilpatrick, Derrick Miller and Michael Tardif, a political consultant. The subpoenaes started in April 2008.

12:28--Skytel witness: Stephen Oshinsky, who used to be an employee of Skytel, is now on the stand.  Skytel was the text message provider whose texts sunk the political careers of Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty in 2008, documenting that they lied under oath.  The both spent time in jail for perjury.  

We know Skytel messages play a key role in this case.

A side note: Oshinsky is being taken out of order because he needs to have surgery tomorrow.  Bartlett's cross-examination will resume later.

12:18--Another brief break: We're on a short "comfort break," but should resume testimony shortly.

12:12--Bartlett still on the stand: Mr. Bartlett has been on the stand for more than two hours. Thomas pointed out to him that the state was alright with Vanguard performing renovations (presumably at their offices).  If the state was fine with Vanguard's renovations, he asks, wouldn't the renovations by Detroit 3D be okay, too?

Sorry again for the delay in blogging.  Had to run out for my daily Noon live shot for our 7 Action News viewers. 

11:25--Only lawmaker who called: Bartlett says the only lawmaker who called with concerns about grant money after it had been awarded was Kilpatrick.

11:15--Defense strategy: It looks like we're seeing Jim Thomas weave a potential defense strategy before our eyes. He is asking Bartlett how common it is for legislators to add certain items to the state's annual budget in order to get it passed (some of that "sausage making" that Thomas talked about earlier).  Bartlett acknowledged that it happens. 

My guess?  Thomas will argue that Kilpatrick was taking a bullet for the state by getting this grant money put into the budget to appease other state lawmakers, and get them to pass the budget.  That will be a tough argument to make, though, since no lawmaker seems to have benefited more from these grants than Kilpatrick.  

11:05--We're back: Break's over and Bartlett is still on the stand.  Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas is questioning him about his earlier statement that he was concerned Carlita Kilpatrick might use state grant money to funnel to her husband's campaign.  Thomas asked Bartlett whether he ever found a connection between that grant money and Kilpatrick's campaign war chest.  Bartlett said he did not.

10:35--Brief break: We're on a 15 minute break here in court.  A quick note on the replacement juror: the white woman has been replaced by an older white man. 

10:31--Concerns over Carlita: Bartlett says once he learned that Kwame Kilpatrick was running for Detroit Mayor, and that his wife had received some of the state grant money, he became concerned that she would use it to make donations to Kilpatrick's mayoral campaign.

"We

had never been advised that Mrs. Kilpatrick would be an ultimate recipient of these funds," he said.

Bartlett said he wrote a letter to the attorney general's office outlining his concerns, but it was never sent.

10:22--Derrick Miller enters: In 2001, Kilpatrick's then chief of staff (and a man who will testify against Kilpatrick in this case) met with Bartlett.  Bartlett went over Kilpatrick's concerns over the "level of detail" in how the state funds were being accounted. 

10:20--Checks and balances: Bartlett said Kilpatrick's tone changed on the phone once he was told that these funds could be audited, and it was important to keep track of how every dollar was spent. He told Kilpatrick that these groups were being held to the same standard as all others. 

10:11--A call from Kilpatrick: Bartlett said he was startled when he got a call from then Rep. Kilpatrick in 2001, after Detroit 3D and Vanguard  had received state grant money.  Kilpatrick was frustrated, he said, with how the groups were being asked to account for how they spent the state money.

"Kelly," he recalls Kilpatrick saying, "these groups are being nickeled and dimed by your people.  They're being asked to account for every nickel and dime in these grants."

He said Kilpatrick "used the tone of voice that a parent would use with a child who's in trouble." 

"I thought maybe I was in trouble," he said.

10:09--"Stop the commentary:" A bit of a skirmish is developing here between Assistant US Attorney Eric Doeh and Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas.  Thomas continues to interrupt Doeh as he's questioning Bartlett.  Doeh showed his frustration.

"Stop the commentary," he said to Thomas.  Judge Edmunds agreed.

"Ratchet it down, please," she said.

"No editorial comments.  You'll all have an opportunity to question the witness."

9:59--Good intentions: Detroit 3D told Bartlett that it would use the grant money to help seniors, tutor children and aide the otherwise needy. That fit nicely with what the state listed as criteria for being awarded a grant.

9:47--Call from Kilpatrick's office: Bartlett says that in 2000, he received a call from then Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick's office about how he could help Detroit 3D for a state grant.  Barlett says he sent Kilpatrick's office a blank application form. 

9:41--Next witness: Kelly Bartlett (a male) is the next witness for the government.  In 2000, he was a legislative liaison for the state budget office.  Looks like he'll be testifying about the grant Ferguson received, too.

9:38--Gave up on the cash: Van Dusen is trying to drive home a point that she's harped on throughout the trial: that if there was legitimate reason to believe fraud was committed by Ferguson, the state would have taken back the $250,000 grant.  Sauer disagreed, saying the state deemed it would be too costly and difficult to get it back from Ferguson. He's now off the stand.

9:34--Raising doubt: Yesterday we saw payments made from a bank account for Detroit 3D.  Payments made to Carlita Kilpatrick's organization and a few other businesses were focused on then, but today Van Dusen is asking why Sauer never interviewed some of the other people and businesses paid from the account (like a Detroit attorney, an accomplished grant writer and others).

Van Dusen seems to be suggesting that these individuals could have testified that they were hired by Detroit 3D to serve a charitable purpose, and not to simply provide lavish offices for Ferguson, as the prosecution has charged.

9:18--First witness: We're picking up where we left off yesterday, with IRS agent Ron Sauer on the stand.  He's being cross-examined by defense lawyer Susan Van Dusen about his familiarity with the controversial Bobby Ferguson non-profit Detroit 3D, which has been the focus (so far) of the last three days of testimony.  

9:13--Sleeping juror is tossed: We saw this coming: the sleeping juror we told you about yesterday?  She's officially been replaced by one of six alternates.  She had been dozing off repeatedly during the first week of trial, and it seemed to draw the judge's scorn yesterday.  This young trial is only 7 days old, and we've already gone through an alternate juror. Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

9:11--Lawyers emerge: The attorneys for both the government and the defense just emerged from Judge Edmunds' chambers, where they were likely conversing about my blog.  Or, perhaps, a legal matter related to this case.  Either way, the jury is now entering the courtroom and we'll be starting in a minute or so.

9:07--Tie tally: Welcome back to federal court for day 7 of trial.  For those of you keeping score, the former mayor is sporting a necktie this morning, bringing the score to Neckties: 5, Bow ties: 2. Yes, I've been counting.

We seem to be running a little late today: we're hoping to get things started momentarily.

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