BLOG RECAP: Spy store witness says Kilpatrick Civic Fund paid to have office swept for bugs

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged from federal court as the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial stretched into day 11.  Follow along below:

12:54--That's all, folks: And with that, we're done for the day.  We'll see you tomorrow morning at 9!

12:51--Sweep the mayor's office: The officer told Lang that he was going to sweep Kwame Kilpatrick's office for listening devices, according to Lang.  The testimony seems to have caught Jim Thomas off guard, who said that he thought the officer told Lang that he was buying the equipment for training.

Both are true, Lang said.  He was originally told that the bugging equipment was purchased to train others, but that the officer also acknowledged he would use it to sweep Kilpatrick's office. Lang does not know if he ultimately did.

12:43--Not from around here: Thomas is trying to understand what buildings Lang swept for listening devices.  Lang isn't sure what buildings he was in, saying he remembered seeing a picture of Ralph Godbee in an office (the former police chief, but not while Kilpatrick was mayor), and a bust of Coleman A. Young.  Thomas asked Lang if he's ever been to city hall, where a bust of Young is in the lobby.

"The only building I know around here is Lafayette Coney Island," Lang said to laughter.

12:40--Never met Kilpatrick: Kilpatrick's lawyer Jim Thomas asked Lang if he ever met Kilpatrick.  He said he did not.

Thomas pointed out that the employee from the mayor's office who Lang dealth with was a police officer from the mayor's executive protection unit. He's asking Lang if the officer ever said that he was going to use that surveillance equipment for teaching other officers. Lang says that he did.

12:33--Costly equipment: The spy equipment cost the Kilpatrick Civic almost almost $1,400.  It was given to Lang by a member of Kilpatrick's staff.

12:15--Spy takes the stand: Brian Lang, an employee of Spy Ops, a Lathrup Village company that specializes in spying equipment, is testifying that he was contacted by someone from Kilpatrick's office in 2007 to sweep his office for listening devices, known as bugs.  One of the products Kilpatrick paid for--the "SpyFinder--found listening or video recording devices that weren't even on. 

He says his company was paid by--any guesses?--the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.

Sorry for the delay.  Had to run outside to update our 7 Action News at Noon viewers with a quick live shot.

11:40--Cool vs. Cool: One man's cool is another man' 

Jim Thomas is in a debate with Agent Paszkiewicz over the meaning of the word "cool."  Thomas says it could have many different meanings depending on how it's said.  But Paszkiewicz says it really one has one (not counting the temperature).

It's gonna to be a long trial, folks.

11:33--My crib: In one text message, Bernard Kilpatrick told his son that it was time to get together.

"we need to have one of our, me zeke, and bobby..," Bernard Kilpatrick wrote.  Zeke was the nickname for Derrick Miller, a Kilpatrick aide.

The mayor responded: "Cool."

Bernard Kilpatrick sent another text message later on, stressing it was time for that meeting.

"we (me) need that meeting I was talking you and crib late," he wrote.

Again, Kwame Kilpatrick responded: "Cool."

11:30--Texts examined: No explosive texts so far, folks.  Agent Paszkiewicz is being shown texts between Kilpatrick and the other co-defendants that establish they had one another's contact information for text messaging.  For example, a text sent by Victor Mercado to Kilpatrick and others told them how to contact him.

"Got it. can,t (sic) wait to talk with you.  See you later," Kilpatrick responded.

11:10--Witness 4: Carol Paszkiewicz, a federal agent with the Environmental Protection Agency, is now testifying.  She investigates environmental crimes, and was key in the investigation into City of Detroit water contracts that went to Kilpatrick friend Bobby Ferguson.  She's currently talking about text message she obtained from Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, Ferguson and Victor Mercado,

11:01--More Civic Fund: Surprise!  The Civic Fund paid for this research, too.  $20,500 in all.  What makes this scenario a little different, though, is that Hart Research originally invoiced "Kilpatrick for Mayor" for payment.  Somewhere along the way, though, a request was made to have the Civic Fund invoiced instead. 

The Civic Fund cut the check, and Kilpatrick was re-elected.

10:57--Campaign research: Asst. U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell is questioining Harvey about a memo sent by one of her colleagues at Peter Hart Research regarding research just performed for Kilpatrick.  The memo, written about 2 months before election date, focuses on Kilpatrick's chances for winning re-election.

The memo mentions a "difficult situation for mayor" and says Kilpatrick is "running out of time."  It added that "Beating (Freman) Hendrix will be very tough," but notes "there is a path to winning." The memo instructs Kilpatrick to raise doubts about Hendrix, who was Kilpatrick's opponent.

Shall we guess who paid for this?

10:50--Next witness: The government's third witness is Virginia Harvey, who works at Peter Hart Research in Washington, D.C, which performs public opinion research. She says she was hired in 2005 by "Kilpatrick for Mayor" to perform telephone surveys and focus groups.  Kilpatrick ran for re-election in 2005.

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

10:23--Don't blame him: Thomas acknowledges that there's a "spillover effect" from raising Kilpatrick's profile as part of the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which benefited his 2001 run for mayor, but says that Kilpatrick can't be blamed for that, nor is it illegal.

10:20--Defense scores: After first saying she didn't recall performing any work for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, Walker had her memory refreshed by an exhibit now being shown to the jury by Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas.  

A contract from 2001 entered into between her company and Kilpatrick says that Contact Sports PR will perform public relations work "related to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund and/or Democratic Caucus."

Walker added that she could not recall entering into a contract with Kilpatrick related to his run for political office.

10:04--Another Civic Fund check: We could have seen this coming.  The government is showing two more checks totaling more than $14,000 from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund made out to Walker's PR company, Contact Sports.

Walker is at least the third witness to testify that she performed political work for Kilpatrick, but was paid out of the Civic Fund. 

9:59--Kilpatrick hires Walker: Walker said she was hired by Kilpatrick to help "raise his profile and create a favorable impression" once he decided he would run for Detroit mayor.

"Our goal was to make sure he got elected," Walker said.

She said she created a media-kit that was distributed to TV networks, radio stations and magazines that explained who Kilpatrick was and helped promote him.

She wrote speeches for him and tried to get Kilpatrick in magazines like Ebony, Jet and others, as well as pitching Kilpatrick-related stories to the Today show and various radio shows.

9:54--Witness #2: A second public relations officer is up on the stand.  Tracy Walker, who now works for Wayne State, handled community relations for Kwame Kilpatrick's mother, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

9:48--Blaming others? Thomas seems to be suggesting that perhaps someone other than Kilpatrick made the decision to pay Berg out of the Civic Fund. The fund was made up of a board of directors.

"It's apparent someone made the decision to pay you out of the Civic Fund," Thomas said.  Berg agreed. 

Will Thomas say who that someone is?

9:45--Timing of the payment: Asst. U.S. Attorney Bullotta is trying to diffuse Thomas's defense that he was assisting the Civic Fund with a negative news story.  Bullotta pointed out that the story didn't come out until at least a month after he received his first payment from the Civic Fund.  Berg agreed, and said he did not recall being hired to help the Civic Fund. 

"Our focus was totally on the campaign," he said.

9:39--Issues vs. candidates: Thomas is reminding the jury of something he argued last week: that the Civic Fund paid for research that wouldn't make Kilpatrick mayor, but would make him a better mayor.  He's showing Berg questions from a survey that ask about what issues matter most to them, like public lighting, crime and economic development.

He left out the questions that are much more politically focused, however.

9:31--Challenging witness: Never mind making a sale with the jury; Thomas is having a hard time making a sale with the witness.

Kilpatrick's lawyer suggested to Berg that he was providing help for both the Kilpatrick Civic Fund and the campaign, but Berg didn't see it that way.

"In my mind, the focus was on the campaign and how it would effect the campaign," Berg said.

First rule of being a lawyer: never ask a question if you don't already know the answer. 

9:24--You did PR: Cross-examining Berg, Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas is suggesting that Berg was really doing public relations work for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, not the campaign.  He reminded Berg of a news story that surfaced over the Summer of 2001--about the same time he received those $5,000 checks--when the owner of a homeless shelter made a donation to the Civic Fund and later received favorable treatment from Kilpatrick. Berg helped Kilpatrick develop a media strategy when that story broke, he said. 

It might be tough for Thomas to make that sale with the jury, as Berg has already said under oath that he was paid by the fund for political work. 

9:10--More Civic Fund payments: It didn't take Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta very long to show some Kilpatrick Civic Fund checks which were made out to Berg's public relations firm.  He's shown two, written in 2001, each for $5,000. 

As we've reported before, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund is a non-profit fund that was created with the mission of improving Detroit.  If it spent money to help a political candidate, that could be a big problem for the former mayor.

Berg says he was paid to help write speeches and create an overall strategy for Kilpatrick's political campaign. 

9:07--First witness: Good morning, everybody.  The first witness for day 11 is Bob Berg, a political consultant who was key in Kwame Kilpatrick's rise in power. 

9:05--Tie Tally: The race continues, with the bow tie making something of a comeback; the former mayor is sporting a purple one. That brings the total to necktie: 8, bow tie: 4. 

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