Kilpatrick's cash key in week one of corruption trial

DETROIT (WXYZ) - It's now very obvious why this is going to be a 4 or 5-month trial.

On the first day of testimony in the Kilpatrick Corruption Case, they powered through 6 witnesses…

On Friday, both sides spent the entire day on one witness who testified about state grants that Kwame Kilpatrick helped get for two non-profits when he was the State House Minority Leader.

"Nothing illegal has happened.  And it's not just because of the presumption of innocence.  They've said so," said Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer, Jim Thomas.

Thomas maintains no laws were broken when state grant money was paid to Carlita Kilpatrick by two different non-profits.

"It may have been an ethical concern, but even if it was an ethical concern, they never followed up on it.  Ethically - and an ethical concern is not a basis for a RICO charge," said Thomas.

The feds allege that Kilpatrick and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson committed fraud by directing more than $280,000 in state grant money to Carlita's company called U.N.I.T.E., Inc., and to Ferguson's non-profit called Detroit 3D.

State of Michigan Budget Analyst Lisa Shoemaker told the jury today that back in 2001, she tried repeatedly to get more documentation from Detroit 3D.

When Assistant U. S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked Shoemaker if Detroit 3D had disclosed in their grant application that they were going use the state money to refurbish offices – would it have given her pause?  She said it would have.  The reason: Shoemaker said, "The grants were intended to provide services for youth and seniors."

The government alleges the grant money was used to remodel Ferguson Enterprises on Wyoming, and to buy a building on Meyers in Detroit. 

Federal prosecutors showed invoices for tens of thousands of dollars spent on various contractors for things like ductwork and seating.  There were also receipts for $20,569 in accounting services.

Bobby Ferguson's lawyers have maintained that Detroit 3D was creating a training center for low-income residents – but they weren't in the mood to talk about that outside court Friday.

"What happened with 3D – was actual work done for the community," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

"No comment. That's my comment for the day.  Report the cross examination," said attorney Mike Rataj.  Rataj says he's upset some media outlets are not reporting the defense cross examination of certain witness (but he was not referring to 7 Action News).

During that defense cross examination, Ferguson defense attorney Susan Van Dusen got Shoemaker to admit some of the documentation provided by 3D to the state was missing from the government's exhibits.  Van Dusen also pointed out that the money the state alleged was being spent on the Meyers address – was actually spent on the training facility inside Ferguson Enterprises.

Shoemaker's testimony took the entire day in court– a stark contrast to the witnesses earlier this week that included Detroit police officers, former Kilpatrick Executive Protection Unit officers, a former state senator, and Mahlon Clift – a man who considers himself a brother to Kwame Kilpatrick, but claims that he delivered $90-grand in cash to the former mayor.

Legal analysts say getting so technical with the witnesses now may be a strategy for the defense.

"One option is to try to slow the case down, and really make it about little different parts, and ultimately argue to the jury, saying, we've seen a lot of different pieces, but does it all come together," said former federal prosecutor Peter Henning.

So far, the testimony has been only about Kilpatrick and Ferguson – which seems to suit Mercado's legal team.

"There's not much to mention about Victor, so that's the way it's going to be," said attorney Martin Crandall.

At the end of week 1 – Kilpatrick's attorney says as long as the jury is following all of the details unfolding inside the courtroom – his client's presumption of innocence will prevail.

"The government doesn't have an advantage – they have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and a very, very difficult case.  We are not going to be rolled over and we're not going to be taken advantage of, and we're not going to take this laying down, said Thomas.

Testimony about the state grants will continue into next week… and then you can expect the to start hearing some more information about those allegations of campaign fund kickbacks.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments