Jurors in Kilpatrick corruption case ask about indictment counts

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The judge in the Kilpatrick corruption trial called all of the lawyers in the case back into court Tuesday to answer a question from the jury.

The jurors wrote a note, asking the court to clarify some information regarding the RICO count and other charges in the indictment.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his friend Bobby Ferguson are charged with racketeering and conspiracy.

On Tuesday the jury asked: why are the individual counts within Count 1 worded slightly differently than the individual counts [later in the indictment]… are the items in count 1 completely separate from all other counts?  They then gave an example, comparing the description of alleged extortion for a sewer outfalls contract that is referenced in both Count 1 [RICO] and Count 7 [Interference with Commerce by Extortion].

The answer to that is:  yes.  Count 1 is the RICO act – and within count one are 26 different acts of conduct that federal prosecutors allege the defendants committed to further their conspiracy of racketeering.  Those "acts" include allegations of bid rigging, extorting other contractors so Ferguson could allegedly cash in on water department contracts, and claims Kilpatrick used his non-profit Civic Fund like a personal piggy bank.

Those alleged acts of extortion and bribery are also charged separately in the indictment as their own criminal charges.  The language used in the charging document varies a bit, and the jury wanted to know why.

"They wanted to know if a particular event was alleged a little bit differently in Count 1 as opposed to a substantive count later, is that meaningful in any way?  That's what they were asking. They're being careful," said Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea.

Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers met in the courtroom around 10:30 a.m. and came up with a response to the jurors' note. 

The judge then read this answer to them: "Both Count 7 [extortion] and Count 1 paragraph 7 [RICO- related to alleged extortion] are based on the same alleged conduct.  The same is true for other paragraphs in Count 1 [RICO] and corresponding counts in the indictment… The difference in wording is based on the fact that count 7 is an alleged violation of the federal crime of extortion.." for which the jury has been given instructions.

Shea says no one should read anything into what the jury is asking.  He also says not to jump to conclusions based on how long deliberations are taking.

"The length of time is meaningless. The length of time is directly related to the amount of material that they have to go through in order to process the case.  Listen, they've been here for five months too.  And nobody wants to spend that much time being drafted into a process like this and then not give it the attention it deserves," said Shea.

After they're question was answered, they resumed deliberations where they asked for more exhibits relating to the water department contracts and financial records.

Deliberations start again in the morning.

The jurors are attempting to come to verdicts on 33 counts in the case that finds former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and Kilpatrick's friend Bobby Ferguson facing corruption charges.

You can see the exact wording of the counts the jury was referencing in their question in the Kilpatrick corruption trial indictment below: 

Kilpatrick Redacted Indictment by Wxyz-tv Detroit

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