Defense grills EPA agent as Kilpatrick trial stretches on

(WXYZ) - Federal prosecutors continue to use text messages to show former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was communicating about water department deals with his friend.

This was Day two on the stand for an EPA agent who was supposed to wrap up one chapter of this case, but the defense prevented the government from introducing the newest allegations with the next chapter because their cross-examination is taking so long.

Text messages were used once again to show that Detroit's ex-mayor was allegedly communicating with his friend, former contractor Bobby Ferguson, about lucrative water department contracts.

EPA Agent Carol Paszkiewicz went back and forth with defense attorneys all morning as they questioned allegations that Kwame Kilpatrick held up a $12 million amendment to Inland Waters sewer lining contract until Ferguson got what he wanted on the deal.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and Ferguson are on trial, accused of racketeering and extortion.

The Assistant U. S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case have been using agents like Paszkiewicz to introduce text messages to the jury, and to tie up loose ends as they end each chapter in the case.
The defense says that out of the 300-500,000 text messages in the investigation – the federal agents haven't reviewed every single text.

"So when you pick out less than, less than 1% of those text messages – it's even less than that. Is that really telling the story – I don't know, I guess the jury will have to make that call," said Ferguson's lawyer Michael Rataj.

The defense spent a lot of time going over material that other witnesses had already covered – but insist those details are important.

"I wouldn't say it's repetitive, they put the witnesses up there, we've got to go through all the topics that they raise, and we have to show that what they're telling us on direct is not the full story," said Rataj. 

"Sometimes subject matter isn't very exciting, and its not apart of – it's not about keeping them entertained, it's about presenting the evidence of the case," said Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea. 

The defense did get Agent Paszkiewicz to admit that she had no documents from any city department that showed the contract amendment was held up or delayed.

But federal prosecutors fired back, showing texts between Kilpatrick and Ferguson that discuss holding contracts and that talk about pricing on contracts.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Chutkow (COE) asked the agent if she had ever seen the mayor communicating via text that way with any other city contractors – and she said no.

The prosecution intended to open a new chapter on the Heilmann Rec Center construction project on Wednesday, but they still haven't been able to bring their next witness on to the stand since the Paszkiewicz cross examination is taking so long.

It's expected that JOA Construction owner Johnson Akinwusi will testify soon about the Heilmann project that included Ferguson.


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