BLOG: Kilpatrick turns to fmr. foe Sharon McPhail as he wraps up defense

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along in the Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

12:05--That's all: Ending early for the day, folks.  Lawyers want to take up a legal issue in the morning before getting to today's next witness.

Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  Had to do a quick live shot for our 7 Action News at Noon viewers.

11:45--No shows: McVay says that when he worked for Ferguson, he made sure to hold people accountable.  He also talked about fixing a water main break on a project that A&H Contractors was also working on, but he didn't see A&H on the job site. Remember, A&H president Thomas Hardimann testified against Kilpatrick earlier.

11:32--New witness: Lewis McVay is the next witness for Ferguson.

11:29--Memorable line: It's safe to say we've had the line of the day today.  Under cross-examination from Chutkow, Simmons pled ignorance to many seemingly basic things about his company.

"I don't know anything about nothing," he said.

11:23--Bernard: Asked if his company ever paid Bernard Kilpatrick $40,000 to help land city work, Simmons said he didn't know.

"You're not aware of the fact that you're hiring consultants?" Chutkow asked.

11:19--Evelyn done: Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow is up now to cross-examine Simmons.

11:13--Didn't see them: A&H Contractors was also on the job (this was a company owned by Thomas Hardimann, who testified earlier) but it was several years before Simmons said he ever saw them on the job site.

11:09--Contract work: Evelyn is now turning to the Lakeshore Engineering contract that was the focus of this trial for several weeks.

11:03--Next witness: Jim Thomas isn't done with his witnesses, but we're moving on to Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn right now.  Theo Simmons is up on the stand, and he runs E&T Trucking.  He said he worked with Ferguson, helping on cement jobs. 

10:35--Break time: Stay with us.

10:33--Done: That's all from McPhail, as Thomas's questioning is done and, surprisingly, the feds have no questions for her.  Perhaps this is a strategic move: give McPhail as little time as possible on the stand and let the defense take as little time as possible.

10:32--Ball ofmoney: McPhail said she and the 80 or so other staffers inside the Kilpatrick administration gathered cash and handed to Christine Beatty. 

"We put it together in a big ball," McPhail said.

10:30--Parties: Thomas is covering about six months of trial in about 16 minutes.  He's moved on to the issues of gifting and parties, saying that about 80 staffers of Kilpatrick's would kick-in cash to buy the mayor a gift. Christine Beatty would gather the money, McPhail said.

McPhail is also being asked about a party at the Atheneum Hotel, held for Kilpatrick, where he received gifts.  She says she remembers the party, but doesn't remember it well.

10:28--Not truthful: "Was (Bell) a truthful person?" Thomas asked McPhail.

"No," she said, shaking her head. 

10:26--Emma Bell: Now on to Emma Bell, Kilpatrick's former lead fundraiser who testified that the mayor extorted her for years.  McPhail says she only saw Bell in Kilpatrick's office once (remember: Bell said the hand-offs normally took place in Kilpatrick's office).

McPhail said she never heard about any rumors of payoffs to Kilpatrick from Bell.

10:24--Miller time: Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas continues to jump from topic to topic, trying to diffuse some of the damaging testimony we've heard over the last six months.  Thomas just now switched over to the topic of Derrick Miller, a former Kilpatrick aide who said he gave the mayor a bribe in a bathroom.

Asked about about Miller's "reputation for truthfulness," McPhail said he Miller was not honest. 

10:20--Nothing special: McPhail was asked about whether Kim Harris, an employee from the city department that verified whether company's deserved status as a Detroit-based. 

Harris testifed back in November that a Ferguson competitor had its certification improperly pulled.

"I felt the contracting process was being tampered with," Harris said at the time.

Today, McPhail said Harris wasn't an effective administrator. 

10:17--Job: McPhail's job was general counsel to the mayor.

10:15--Call for support: McPhail said she was asked on the night of the mayoral primary in 2005 to support Kilpatrick.  She resisted at the time, but weeks later said she received a call from Kilpatrick asking for help.  She considered his offer, and ultimately did endorse him.  McPhail was later hired by Kilpatrick, but insisted that the job wasn't promised to her in exchange for her support.

But McPhail said she had two demands of Kilpatrick when she took the job.

"I"m not reporting to Christine," she said, referring to Kilpatrick Chief of Staff Christine Beatty. 

She said she also wanted to "do some things for the people who live in Detroit."

10:09--Consultants: It was also not unusual for companies seeking city contracts to hire consultants to help secure the job, says McPhail.

10:05--Not unusual: McPhail says that the seven-and-a-half months it took for Inland Waters' contract to be approved by city government was not unusual.  Remember, this the contract where company CEO Tony Soave said he was forced to hire Kilpatrick friend Bobby Ferguson. 

10:01--Not fun: McPhail is talking about what it's like to run for city council, saying that the campaign is "very unpleasant."  Candidates are required to go from meeting to meeting, participate in debates and spend little time in their offices (assuming they're a candidate running for re-election). 

Given that the election season (beginning with the primary and extending into the general election) takes up almost the entire Summer and Fall, Thomas asks McPhail if contract approval might take a back seat (or get some more slowly) as a result.  She agrees. 

9:57--Contracting procedures: McPhail says that any city council member has the power to put a hold on a contract until issues are resolved or questions related to it are answered. 

Now, McPhail is looking at the cover sheet of a Detroit water department contract that would be sent to the city council for approval. 

9:47--She's up: Sharon McPhail is on the stand, and is talking about her political history here in Detroit. She was on the Detroit City Council from 2002 through 2005 and ran for mayor several times, most recently in 2005.  Her bid was unsuccessful, and she eventually endorsed Kilpatrick.

9:45--Wrapping-up: We knew the defense would be quick, but who knew it'd be this quick. Judge Edmunds says that the defense is expected to call its last witness on Wednesday. If that happens as expected, there will be no court on Thursday or Friday, as the judge will be addressing some issues legal issues related to this case.

9:36--Hallelujah: Finally, the lawyers have emerged from the judge's chambers. Hopefully, we'll get started any minute. 

9:28--Oh, the memories: The longer today's testimony is delayed, the more time I have to look up old stories about Sharon McPhail accusing Kilpatrick of electrocuting her.  So, readers, enjoy these tidbits I've discovered.

"I was trying to move the chair forward, and it wouldn't move," McPhail told Channel 7 back in January 2003.

"We found, underneath, these wires wrapped around the metal base of the chair, they'd been cut."

McPhail said she was surprised "anybody would do something like that."

"And I didn't even think anything of it until my staff member called security and they came down and they said somebody did this on purpose. This isn't an accident," she said.

Kilpatrick had an interesting take on McPhail's remarks.

"I think Sharon really needs to get some help right now," he said, according to UPI. 

"This is a serious accusation and it's ridiculous. Nobody down here not only had anything to do with it, but better stated is I think those people out there that really love Sharon McPhail, all of us, her family and friends, really need to wrap our arms around her."

9:15--McPhail: We're expecting to see fmr. Kilpatrick adversary Sharon McPhail on the stand sometime today. While on the Detroit City Council, McPhail often went out of her way to bash Kilpatrick in the press, and she famously accused him trying to rig her office chair to electrocute her back in 2003. 

She ran against Kilpatrick for mayor in 2005, but after an unsuccessful bid, she joined his administration and became one of his most ardent defenders. 

Now she's riding to Kilpatrick's defense again as one of the former mayor's most anticipated witnesses. 

9:00--Day 66: Welcome back to federal court, everyone. There's word that the defense could rest its case as soon as the end of the week, which brings joy to those of us who've been covering this trial since it was 90 and sunny outside. 

As has become the norm, all the lawyers appear to be huddled inside Judge Nancy Edmunds' chambers right now. 

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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