Kilpatrick lawyer suggests witness alleging extortion is a "BS artist"

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with day 45 of the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs all the news to come out of federal court.

WARNING: Today's courtroom testimony includes explicit language.

12:30-- Judge Edmunds: That's it for today. Similar to Tuesday, Judge Edmunds has an appointment and needed to end early. Join us tomorrow at 9 a.m. for the last day of trial until Jan 3, 2013.

12:20-- Chutkow re-directs: Chutkow has Parker reread an email he wrote from Jan. 6, 2005, the one that Parker noted that he had spoken with a "high ranking" official in the Kilpatrick administration. Evelyn accused Parker of lying, but Parker said he didn't identify Ferguson because his boss viewed him as difficult.

12:15-- Evelyn Wraps Up- Evelyn finished his cross examination by showing a consulting agreement from a company that Parker formed in August of 2009. The agreement was to provide services to Ferguson Enterprises. Parker wanted $5,000 a month plus a fraction of any contracts Ferguson brought in.

Evelyn: "Even though you had these various experiences with Mr. Ferguson," including extortion, "You said that when you and Mr. Ferguson parted ways, you wanted him to be your first customer, is that right?"

Parker: "Yes Sir."

12:07-- City Council votes no: Parker called a meeting with City Council to explain their recent vote to turn down a contract or two creates a hardship for minority-owned, Detroit Based and the action that might cause an increase in homelessness and unemployment in Detroit. In the letter he wrote to City Council he stated "specifically our added value to the community, many employed Detroit residents, and our ability to provide quality work for the City of Detroit."

12:00--Change of Heart: After witness Bernard Parker testified that he thought Bobby Ferguson was a morally corrupt person, Evelyn shows that Parker agreed to work with Ferguson on two DWSD contracts. Parker responded to Evelyn with "I made a bad judgment."   

11:38--Done deal? Yesterday Parker discussed a hand-written document prepared by Walbridge officials, saying if they were awarded a major city sewer contract, they would hire Bobby Ferguson.  The document also said it outlined out Ferguson would be paid.  The feds argued that this document is what led to Walbridge landing the contract.

However, the defense just showed an e-mail from Parker sent two days before that document was created where he says a city official has told him that Walbridge will be awarded the contract.

11:23--Long break: That took longer than should have.  But we're back now.

10:43--Short break: Time for folks to cool down.  Short break.

10:33--Heat's on: Is it getting warm in here?  Evelyn is showing another e-mail where Parker wrote to his bosses, saying that a "high-level ranking appointee in the Kilpatrick administration" reminded the company that it's making a lot of money on a city contract and that they should "re-assess our corporate citizenship" with the City of Detroit.

Evelyn suggested that the appointee was Derrick Miller, but Parker said it was Bobby Ferguson (who was not an appointee).

Evelyn seemed surprised, then composed himself and went hard at Parker.

"Either you're lying to your bosses or you're lying to this jury," he shouted.

"I lied to my bosses," Parker said, saying he was afraid if Bobby found out, there would be repercussions.

"You will (lie) if you think there's an advantage for you," Evelyn shouted.

Parker disagreed.  He said Ferguson's language to him was much more crude than he represented in the e-mail.  Evelyn asked what Ferguson actually said.

"Motherfucker, you need to think about what's going on," Parker recalled.

10:30--Political players: Evelyn's showing an e-mail sent by Parker to other employees at Insituform, a company that was doing business with Ferguson.  Parker is talking about the team that Insituform has assembled for a city project.

"The reasoning behind our team member decision…involves our ability to maximize both our political and (local economic development opportunities," he wrote.

I suspect that Evelyn is trying to show that Parker is playing both sides of the field here: today, he's saying that partnering with Ferguson was forced, but back then he was eager to do it because he knew it would please Kilpatrick and others. 

10:18--Bonus: Evelyn just showed an e-mail from someone (it's not clear who) saying that Parker wanted a $100,000 for closing the deal with Ferguson.  That employee thought that figure was too high, and suggested only $25,000.  Ultimately, that's what Parker received. 

Parker interjected, suggesting he was asking for that much because his client was afraid to deal with Ferguson. 

"I didn't ask you that.  You're volunteering that," Evelyn snapped.

"Are you working that hard to help the government out?"

10:15--Shmoozing: Evelyn is showing a January 2007 e-mail from Parker to a Walbridge Aldinger employee, asking for 4 tickets for

a Jamie Fox concert downtown.  He wanted the tickets for himself, his wife, Kilpatrick's chief of staff Christine Beatty and her husband. Walbridge picked up the tab. 

Later on, he asked for tickets to a Katt Williams concert (he's a comedian) for Kandia Milton (Kilpatrick's top aide and friend) and his wife.  And in April 2007, he was asking for Tigers tickets for Kandia Milton and his brother DeDan (also a mayoral aide), and also for Rod French and Gerald Moore of the City of Detroit Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

And there's more: 4 tickets for the Earthquake Concert at the Fox Theater, one of which was for Kilpatrick's aide Derrick Miller.  Also, he wanted 4 tickets for the New Edition Concert at the Fox for more DWSD employees.

Walbridge's generosity also stretched into paying for an internship in the City of Detroit's Human Rights Department.  It contributed $2,500 which was paid to a city intern.

10:07--Paid for a result: Evelyn is talking about Parker's compensation, and how he (and others in his role) are often compensated if they produce a certain result, like closing a deal.  Parker says that's true, and that those arrangements are always put in writing.  Bottom line: there's an incentive for him to make deals happen.

10:02--Thomas done: Kilpatrick's lawyer Jim Thomas is done.  Ferguson's lawyer Gerald Evelyn is up now.

9:51--Bobby and Dennis: Also in his FBI interview, Thomas says that Parker said that Kilpatrick told him to talk to both Bobby Ferguson and an employee of Inland Waters (the company with the water contract), Dennis Ozust.

Yesterday, though, Parker only mentioned Bobby.

9:48--Memory issues: Thomas is trying to point out a discrepancy in Parker's testimony, reminding jurors that yesterday, he testified that Mayor Kilpatrick told him to "get with Bobby" when Parker asked him why a contract wasn't moving forward.  During an October 2012 interview with the FBI, Thomas says that Parker could not recall where that conversation took place.

But yesterday, Parker said the conversation happened at a precinct delegate meeting.  Thomas is asking: how could you not remember where the meeting happened in October, but remember it now?

9:42--"Troublesome document:" Thomas says that the signed amendment from Kilpatrick is a "troublesome document" for the fed's case, as it was dated the day before Ferguson and Parker had a meeting about the contract.  Thomas's point: how could Kilpatrick have been holding up the contract if he signed it before you even met with Bobby?

9:36--Consider the source: Thomas is going hard at Parker's testimony, suggesting it's all based on "impressions" that he and his other colleagues developed over the course of several months about Kilpatrick holding up a contract for Ferguson, when in fact that wasn't the case at all.

"Those impressions turned out to be incorrect, isn't that true?" Thomas said.

"I don't know if that's true," Parker responded.

Things are getting tense between these two, with Parker continuing to push back at Thomas's assertions.  He's standing by his statements from before.

"What fact do you draw on?" Thomas shouted.

Thomas insists that, again, it wasn't Kilpatrick that entered into a contract with Ferguson: it was Water Dept. boss Victor Mercado.

9:24--Harsh words: Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas might have his hands full with Mr. Parker, who appears defensive right off the bat this morning.  Thomas just disclosed that Walbridge's CEO might not have been a fan of his during the job interview process, saying that John Rakolta called him a "bullshit artist" who oversold his credentials. Thomas is trying to paint Parker as a shyster who wasn't exactly trusted by his own boss (so can a jury trust him?). Parker says he's not aware that Rakolta felt that way.

It should be noted, though, that Rakolta still hired him, so perhaps he reached a different opinion down the road.

9:19--Witness back: Okay, here we go.  Bernard Parker III is back on the stand.  He's talking about his two stints at Walbridge Aldinger, the major Detroit construction firm that was allegedly extorted by Kilpatrick.  We are expected to hear from its CEO, John Rakolta, later on in this trial.

9:14--Hearsay argument: Court started on time, but we've spent the first fifteen minutes or so talking about a debate on allowing hearsay evidence into the case (essentially, someone reporting what they heard from another party).  The defense believes that Judge Edmunds is allowing testimony she shouldn't, but Edmunds is citing cases that explain her position and why it's being allowed.  Edmunds has also noted that, in several cases, the testimony is not being "offered as the truth," but does help explain a witness's state of mind (i.e., "I believed there was a threat to my business).

Yesterday, Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj ripped Edmunds on camera, saying she's helping the prosecution. He's already caught the scorn of Edmunds more than once, and this certainly won't help his case.

8:50--Kilpatrick's

suits: Talking to my colleague Heather Catallo (a fellow duPont-Columbia award winner ) this morning, she mentioned that the former mayor's suits have been looking a little raggedy ever since he missed a deadline for his $500 restitution payment.  She noted that some of them appear to be torn or held together by staples.  So if anyone's looking for any last-minute Christmas gifts for Mr. Kilpatrick, a new suit (or perhaps just a needle and thread) might not be a bad idea..

8:46--Day 45: Welcome back, folks.  It's the second to last day of trial until the Christmas break, and we expect to hear from a couple more witnesses before taking a few days off.  Still on the stand this morning will be Bernard Parker III, a business consultant who said that Kwame Kilpatrick held up at least two major contracts he was a part of while he was mayor. 

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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