Carlita Kilpatrick main focus of Thursday's corruption trial hearing

(WXYZ) - On Thursday, the feds took the jurors back to Kwame Kilpatrick's days in Lansing.

And while she wasn't in court Thursday, Carlita Kilpatrick was definitely the main focus.

It was a program that was supposed to teach students at Sharrard Elementary School in Detroit about non-violent conflict resolution.

But a witness in the Kilpatrick Corruption trial testified Thursday that Carlita Kilpatrick never actually trained any of the children she was supposed to – even though she was paid more than $37,000 in state grant funds. 

Donna Williams used to be the Executive Director of the Vanguard Community Development Corporation, the non-profit arm of Bishop Edgar Vann's 2nd Ebenezer Church.

"Certainly, I enjoyed knowing Carlita, working with Carlita-- she did some good things, and there's some things that remained undone at the end of the contract, and I'm sorry about that as well," said Williams.

Williams testified today that after Kwame Kilpatrick obtained a hefty state grant for Vanguard in the year 2000, Bishop Vann told her that Mrs. Kilpatrick was to be hired for $75,000.  She was also to be paid half of the money up front, instead of invoicing the charity like other contractors.

"When I found out about the agreement, obviously, I had some concerns," said Williams.

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow and former State Budget Director Mary Lannoye also took the stand Thursday.  They talked about Kilpatrick's efforts while he was the State House Minority Leader to get $800,000 in state grants for two non-profits: Bobby Ferguson's Detroit 3D non-profit and Vanguard.

The feds allege that Kilpatrick and Ferguson committed fraud by spending some of the grant money on personal expenses.

During cross examination, DeGrow said-- on the surface-- it did not seem like there was anything wrong with a state representative's relative getting paid with the grant money, but when he was later asked by Asst. U. S. Attorney Michael Bullotta "would it be appropriate for grant money to go to anyone's spouse for work that wasn't done," he answered "no."

Lannoye told the jury she never would have approved the contract for the grants if she had known Carlita Kilpatrick was going to get some of the money.  

"The grants were meant to help a local community, they weren't meant to go directly to a legislator," said Lannoye.

Meanwhile, Donna Williams said when she had to document the work being done, she submitted the invoices with Carlita Kilpatrick's name on them, which raised red flags from the state.  

Williams said Kwame Kilpatrick then called her and told her that she "had messed up."

"I didn't like the phone call," said Williams.

Meanwhile, the feds have alleged that Bobby Ferguson used the state grant money that Kilpatrick obtained to remodel his offices.  When federal prosecutors asked former state Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow if, under the grant rules, refurbishing private officers would be appropriate – he said, " I can't think of a circumstance where that would qualify."

Ferguson's defense team asked DeGrow if the grant money was used to refurbish a training facility for people to learn employable skills—would that benefit the community?  DeGrow said yes.

"The problem is you haven't heard all the testimony – wait till you hear all of it," said lead Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn.

The defense is pointing out that there were other relatives and spouses who have benefited from state money over the years.

More witnesses are expected to take the stand Friday, including Bishop Edgar Vann.


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