Day 12: Feds say Kilpatrick's charity paid for yoga, vacation, relatives' tuition

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

12:42--He didn't like that idea: Allen said he suggested to Kilpatrick that he disclose some of the donors to the Civic Fund so as to appear transparent about the charity.

"He didn't like that idea," Allen said.

12:38--Dig at the media: Allen leapt at the opportunity to bring up Kilpatrick's ill-fated effort to have 7 Action News reporter Steve Wilson charged with a crime.  Specifically, Allen said he believed WXYZ-TV obtained a copy of the La Costa check by posing as Kwame Kilpatrick over the phone. Wilson denied the accusation emphatically and no charge was ever brought.

"We got a dig in at the media," Allen sneered, "but the media didn't go away."

12:35--"Pants down:" Allen said he felt like he "had his pants down" when 7 Action News showed a copy of the $8,600 check paid to the resort by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  He said the mayor and chief of staff were very upset about the story. 

Allen said at that point, Kilpatrick told him that the Civic Fund paid for the trip because he was in California for fundraising. That was the first time the mayor ever mentioned fundraising.

12:32--Mayor paid for the trip, he said: Allen says he was told by Kwame Kilpatrick that he paid for his trip to La Costa. In court, the U.S. Attorney played a small portion of Channel 7's interview with Matt Allen at the time the story broke.

"So the mayor personally paid for this trip," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

"For the family trip, the mayor paid for that trip," Allen said.

12:25--WXYZ-TV request: Michael Bullotta is asking about a public records request made by Channel 7 for the mayor's credit card records regarding the La Costa family trip.  Allen says he spoke with Kilpatrick at the time, and the mayor told him that the city-issued credit card was used to reserve the room.  After he arrived, the charge was taken off the bill and picked up by his personal credit card, Allen says he was told.

12:20--Fmr. Mayoral Spokesman: Matt Allen, who used to be Kilpatrick's spokesman while he was mayor, is up now. 

12:00--Short break: Stay with us...

11:43--Business and pleasure: Give Thomas credit, he's doing his best here and at times seems to be crafting a plausible defense.  Sure, Kilpatrick and his family went on a vacation in California, but he was also there to meet with people that would help raise his public profile, and help him serve the community, Thomas said.

11:40--Kid's pre-school: Thomas suggests that the pre-school that received $5,000 from the Civic Fund received it as a gift, not an expense related to Kilpatrick's kids.  He said the mayor's children weren't even going to the school at the time.

11:32--Business, not pleasure: Thomas is arguing that Kilpatrick and Beatty traveled to Denver for a business meeting, not a pleasure trip.  In fact, a national meeting of mayors was taking place at the same time, he said. 

11:25--Posh places: Thomas acknowledges that Kilpatrick stayed at some very nice hotels, but that's not a crime, he says.  His client wasn't required to stay "at the Holiday Inn," Thomas pointed out.  And that's true, as long as he wasn't just using the fund to foot the bill for pleasure trips.

11:15--Donations to charities, too: March of Dimes, Big Brothers Big Sisters and other charities were recipients of donations from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, Thomas said.  The Civic Fund gave almost $400,000 to charitable organizations through the years, he said.

11:14--Friends and family: The Civic Fund said it would educate people, Thomas said. So what if some of those people were the Kilpatrick's?  Kilpatrick's lawyer asked Sauer if the charity's bylaws prohibited paying for the tuition of "someone with the same last name" as Kwame Kilpatrick or a relative.  Sauer said it did not.

He's talking about the college tuition that paid for Kilpatrick's sister and cousin. 

11:11--Blaming Beatty: Christine Beatty controlled the purse strings, Thomas is suggesting.  Showing a text message that shows Beatty executed an advertising purchase with Civic Fund money.  Will blaming a scorned lover work here? What do you think?

11:02--Pre-signed checks? Thomas says that because Kilpatrick was taken off the board of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund in 2002, he was no longer a signatory on checks coming from the fund's account.  Still, his signature appeared on checks after 2002.  Thomas suggested that was because Kilpatrick "pre-signed" blank checks that were later filled-in by Christine Beatty.

It looks like Kilpatrick has found his scapegoat. 

11:00--Beatty was "very involved:" Thomas is up now to cross-examine Sauer.  He pointed out that Christine Beatty, who accompanied Kilpatrick on at least one trip paid for by the Civic Fund, was "very involved" in running the charity. 

10:48--Bernard's lawyer: John Shea has elected to cross-examine Sauer first, not Thomas.  He's talking to Sauer about money paid to a travel agency for a trip to New Orleans for Bobby Ferguson and his client, Bernard Kilpatrick.

He's asking Sauer whether he verified if the tickets purchased were ever used.  Sauer said he did not.

10:46--We're back: Bullotta is almost done with IRS agent Sauer, which gives Jim Thomas a few more minutes to prepare his defense.  After the barrage of testimony just fired at his client, I would expect Thomas could use some of that relaxing yoga Kilpatrick enjoyed.

10:21--Wow: The government just unloaded on Kilpatrick for the last hour, showing that Kilpatrick's charity paid for tuition, vacations, romantic getaways, massages, manicures and pedicures, yoga, his kid's pre-school and more. 

If you're Jim Thomas, the mayor's lawyer, where do you begin in defending your client?  He's probably pondering that right now, as the judge just gave us a 20 minute break. 

10:16--Massages, etc. I've never gotten a look at Kwame Kilpatrick's cuticles, but I'd imagine they look awfully nice.  Kilpatrick got a rub down on the trip, as well as a manicure and pedicure.  That was more than his wife, who only received a pedicure.

10:10--LaCosta Resort: Kilpatrick's $8,605 family vacation to the LaCosta Resort in California--first exposed by 7 Action News in 2007--is now being discussed.  That trip, too, was paid by the Civic Fund. 

10:09--Bernard & Bobby: In February 2002, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson traveled together from Detroit to New Orleans.  The trip cost $1,026 and was paid for by the Civic Fund.

10:03--He likes the finer things: We know now that Kwame Kilpatrick fancied himself something of a yoga fan.  Well he also likes facials and manicure/pedicures, too.  That's according to hotel receipts show in court from the Colorado retreat.  Of course, there's nothing illegal about paying somebody to put cucumbers on your eyes while you're listening to an Enya CD.  But if you use money from a charity to pay for it?  You might have a problem or two. 

10:00--Ready for romance:  The Civic Fund paid $1,000 for a romantic getaway in Colorado for Kilpatrick and Beatty, too.  Text messages back up the feds' case.  In one, Kilpatrick asked Beatty if she was ready for the trip.

"You can't even understand how ready.  When we go away, it's like stealing a moment that is supposed to be a reality anyway," Beatty said. 

The second guest listed with Kilpatrick in the hotel room?  "Coleman E. Young."

9:51--Mongo's money: Political consultant Adolph Mongo received at least $31,000 from the Civic Fund, too. 

9:49--Pre-school, too: My fingers can barely keep up, as Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is throwing out more red meat to the jurors than they can ever swallow.  He just showed a check from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, signed by Kilpatrick and Beatty, that paid $5,000 to the pre-school that Kilpatrick's kids attended at the time.

9:47--Ah, the loot: Ayanna Kilpatrick texted Christine Beatty around the same time, Sauer testified.  What'd she say?

"I paged you yesterday, re: the transfer of the loot."

9:44--Write bone a check: Not sure who's in charge of handing out nicknames for the Kilpatrick's, but Ayanna Kilpatrick got the short end of the stick when she got her.  Her nickname, it was just revealed, was "Bone."

"Can we write Bone a ck for 2000 civic," asked Beatty to Kwame Kilpatrick.

The same day of the text--Valentines Day 2002--"Bone" received a check from the Civic Fund for $1,500. 

9:39--College for sis: We don't know if the Civic Fund ever helped educate voters (like it was founded to), but apparently it helped educate Kilpatrick's relatives.  A 2001 check made out to New York University covered $2,500 worth of tuition for his sister Diarra, and a another check for $1,000 to Tennessee State University helped pay for his cousin Jamila Evan's tuition.

9:37--IRS agent back: Ron Sauer is back for his fifth (or sixth or seventh?) time on the stand.  He's testifying about text messages he reviewed from Kilpatrick about the Civic Fund.  In one exchange, Beatty asks Kilpatrick "Hey did you get my last message."  Kilpatrick responds: "Yes. Yes on civic fund for the ads. Go Home!"

Not clear yet on what ads they were talking about.

9:30--Benefits of yoga: Grenader was asked by Thomas about the benefits yoga offers to corporations and groups that he's trained in the past.  He said it helps to "focus you" and can help with decision making.

And if you were wondering, none of the other co-defendants involved in this case were at the yoga lessons, according to Grenader.  A shame, really, because I wanted to see Victor Mercado do a downward-facing dog. 

9:23--Instructor on the stand: Brian Grenader, who provided Kilpatrick's 2003 yoga lessons, is on the stand right now.  He said he provided lessons twice a week for a couple of months; the lessons took place at Cobo Hall and at the Manoogian Mansion.  Kilpatrick was always present, he said, but he wasn't alone; between 5 and 8 were usually with him, including his body guards.   

After he left the Center for Yoga and started his own company, Red Locust Yoga, Grenader says he was contacted by the mayor for a few more lessons.

"Were any youths or groups present at those lessons," asked Asst. U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell, referencing the charity's mission to help children.

"No," Grenader responded.

9:20--It's teambuilding: Jim Thomas has his work cut out for him on this one: how can he argue that spending more than two-grand on yoga lessons met the charity's lofty purposes. He tried asking Kest if yoga could provide "team building" for groups.  She said it could.  Thomas sat down a few minutes later.

9:11--Yoga...for Kwame!? Well, things are getting interesting right off the bat.  Radmilla Kest, a yoga instructor from the Center for Yoga, is on the stand testifying about yoga lessons her company gave Kwame Kilpatrick in 2002 and 2003.  Guess who paid the $2,400 bill for the lessons?  The much-discussed Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  Again, Kilpatrick helped found it as a charity that would help improve the city.

No word on how teaching the mayor to do a half lotus pose would meet that goal...

9:07--Tie tally: Just when you think we've got a battle brewing, the necktie scores again.  Kilpatrick is sporting a tan necktie that goes nicely with his tan sport coat.  That brings our score to necktie: 9, bow tie 4.  But hey, slow and steady wins the race.

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