Testimony begins in Kilpatrick corruption trial

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Details about Kwame Kilpatrick's lifestyle while he was mayor emerged Monday as friends and former bodyguards took the stand – stories of trips on private planes, sweeping his office for listening devices and cash transactions.

But, it wasn't necessarily a slam-dunk for the prosecution.

Well-wishers are still showering Detroit's former mayor with love outside the courtroom, but inside, several close friends and former bodyguards had to testify against Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, former city contractor Bobby Ferguson, and ex-Detroit Water department director Victor Mercado are all charged with racketeering and conspiracy, accused of running a criminal enterprise out of city hall.

The first day of testimony started with the money trail. IRS Agent Ron Sauer testified that he had tracked a total of more than $541,000 in cash deposits that came into Kilpatrick's various accounts while he was mayor, and that they suspected someone was bribing Kilpatrick because those cash deposits weren't happening while Kilpatrick was in the State House of Representatives.

"We have a theory, and we have a defense," said Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas as he left the courthouse.

When Thomas cross-examined Agent Sauer, he tried to establish that before Kilpatrick became mayor, both he and his wife were working, and the agent acknowledged that some cash could have been stored in other accounts or places.

One of Kilpatrick's former Executive Protection Unit, or EPU, bodyguards testified that one time the mayor asked him to retrieve $1500 from one of Kilpatrick's shoes in his closet in his old house on Leslie in Detroit. Officer Chad Smith said he was to use to the cash pay one Kilpatrick's credit cards.

About the money being kept in a shoe, Thomas joked, "Well, this guy's got big feet.

None of the three EPU officers who took the stand today said they ever saw Kilpatrick with large amounts of cash.
Employees from First Independence Bank testified the former mayor regularly came in to pay his credit card bill with chunks of cash ranging from $1,000-$4,000 – though neither banker thought that was odd.

Another former EPU officer, Commander Dwayne Love, testified that while he worked for the mayor, they had the Manoogian Mansion and the mayor's office swept for listening devices.

The feds have painted Bobby Ferguson as "the mayor's soldier" who helped bankroll Kwame Kilpatrick's lavish lifestyle.

But when Ferguson attorney Gerald Evelyn cross-examined the Agent Sauer admitted the feds never correlated the dates of the cash flowing in to Kilpatrick with the times Ferguson was withdrawing money. The feds tracked more than $2 Million in cash withdrawals for Ferguson while the mayor was in office, but Evelyn reminded the agent that that was the same amount the FBI seized in cash when they raided Ferguson's home and business – and got the agent to agree that money "can't be in two places at once."

None of the EPU officers said they ever saw Ferguson give cash to Kilpatrick, but they admitted that because Ferguson and Kilpatrick were good friends – they weren't present for all of their meetings inside Ferguson's various offices.

DPD Commander Dwayne Love testified he flew with businessman Tony Soave, Kilpatrick, and Christine Beatty on Soave's private plane for a day of shopping in New York City, although he couldn't remember how much was purchased on the trip.

The EPU officers explained other private plane trips to Bermuda and Florida - compliments of Soave. The defense fired back , getting the officers to agree they simply thought Soave and Kilpatrick were friends.

Kilpatrick isn't commenting on those flights, or anything else that came out in court.

Another defense tactic seems to involve calling all of the cash "gifts" – which would mean Kilpatrick didn't owe taxes on gifts. They also brought up a big birthday bash at the Atheneum where large amounts of cash were collected for Kilpatrick.
 

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