How much money can you fit in your pants? Wild day of testimony at Kilpatrick corruption trial

(WXYZ) - If you stuffed $90,000 in cash in your pockets – do you think you could get through airport security?

That's the question the jurors in the Kilpatrick corruption case will have to wrestle with after a wild day of testimony.

What do you get when you combine Michelin Man references, video of a federal agent stuffing stacks of cash in his pants, and prosecutors trying to pass out 90-grand to the jury?  You get day 48 of the never dull Kilpatrick federal trial.

Friday's colorful testimony was introduced to combat questions raised by the defense with one of the earliest witnesses in the Kilpatrick corruption case.

You'll recall Mahlon Clift – a former close friend of Kwame Kilpatrick.  The ex-mayor, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his friend Bobby Ferguson are on trial, accused of running a criminal enterprise out of city hall.

Clift told the jury back in September that Ferguson gave him $90,000 in cash to transport to Kilpatrick in Texas after he had been forced out of office.  Clift testified that he stuffed the stacks of 100s and 50s into the pockets of his gym shorts, and then over that – he donned baggy jeans – and allegedly filled those pockets with money as well.

But Clift had a hard time remembering details during his testimony – and the defense tried to attack his credibility by questioning why airport security screeners did not notice the bulky cash.

"I submit to you that my statement back in September that he looked like the Michelin man still holds," said Ferguson lawyer Mike Rataj.

Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas also questioned why the metal fibers inside the currency didn't set off the airport magnetometers.

So federal prosecutors conducted a test inside metro airport, sending an FBI agent carrying $90,000 in cash through the metal detector 100 times. The agent said cash never set off the metal detector.

On Friday, a Homeland Security TSA official told the jury their screening devices are not set to detect cash – saying checking for paper currency would "bring our screening operations to a halt."

But the defense challenged the TSA official – getting him to admit that TSA agents do demand that passengers empty their pockets, and questioning why someone with money stuffed in their clothing would not get flagged.

"You try to take all that money and stuff it in your pants pocket and walk through a metal detector in any airport in the United States and you're not going to get pulled over, come on," said Rataj.

The defense also jumped on the fact that Clift specifically said he placed the money in several pockets – and in the video shown to the jury, you could see the FBI agent stuffing the money into his waist band only, which they said hid the money more effectively under his t-shirt.

"The jury has to recall the testimony of Mahlon Clift.  And then they have to look at what they saw today, and then they have to make the determination as to whether or not that test was an accurate depiction based on what Mr. Clift had testified to – and I submit to you that it was not," said Clift.

Prosecutors showed the jury the stacks of cash – and wanted to pass them out so jurors could see up close how thick they were.  The judge said no--too much laughter from the jury-- and then added: not that I don't trust you!

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