Private jet trips for Kilpatrick take center stage in first day of testimony

DETROIT (WXYZ) - He wasn't in court today, but Detroit businessman Tony Soave took center stage in the first day of testimony in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.

It was more than four years ago that 7 Action News exposed the a small fortune in jet travel  provided to Kilpatrick that could now prove key to the feds' case against him.

Soave is a Detroit business titans who had big city contracts under Kilpatrick, and wanted more.  As 7 Action News first reported in 2008, he routinely provided Kilpatrick with free trips on his private jet to places like Tallahassee, Florida, where Kilpatrick had a home.  

All told, in about a year, 27 flights corresponded with Kilpatrick's personal travel and Soave's private jets.

Today in court, Kilpatrick's former bodyguards testified that the former mayor often used Soave's jets to fly across the country. They said Soave seemed like the mayor's friend, jetting him to places like Florida with his family, Bermuda with friend Bobby Ferguson and others, and to New York City, where he went shopping with his former lover Christine Beatty.  Soave came along for the New York trip, too.

Back in 2008, Soave said the trips were just gifts for the mayor.  But he's singing a different tune now.  In court documents, he now says he was extorted.  Forced to give Kilpatrick free jet trips, courtside Pistons tickets, and other fancy perks so that he could keep his big city contracts.

Soave's spokeswoman said her client can't make any comment, as he's set to testify later on in the trial.

Got a tip? Contact the 7 Action News Investigators at or at (248) 827-9466.

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