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Tag: Detroit

Column: Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick Finds Trial Almost Laughable: I Find it Depressing

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — The other day ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick tweeted: “If this case was in another State, not paid for by taxpayers, & my life was not on the line, this ish would be laughable.”

Well, yes, perhaps almost laughable for Kwame.

Depressing for the rest of us.

For the past two weeks, the government has delivered some damaging testimony in his public corruption trial. Ultimately it will be up to the jury to decide if Kwame walks or sulks behind bars for many years. If convicted, count on him going off to prison for at least 12 years. I don’t sense this judge has a lot sympathy for the defense.

As an observer, the longer I watch the trial, the more I can’t help but see Kwame as man who reigned supremely over this impoverished kingdom, whose concerns about living a lavish lifestyle overrode his concerns of his subjects.

I’m not laughing.

To read full column click here.

 

Betrayal Of A Mayor: Confidante Says She Gave Detroit Mayor $200,000-Plus In Kickbacks

“A true friend stabs you in the front.” Oscar Wilde

Kwame Kilpatrick

 
By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit
DETROIT –– Betrayal.

There ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sat in federal court Thursday morning, bow tie and suit, leaning at first to the left, looking dour, as if someone was about to punch him in the stomach.

In front of him, was Emma Bell, his former chief fundraiser, betraying him, testifying for the government that she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 in kickbacks from donations to various funds including the Kilpatrick for Mayor Fund.

She once looked at him as a son. Thursday morning, she could barely look at him. And at times she could barely talk, pausing when questioned by prosecutor Michael Bullotta.

“It’s not easy for me to be here, sir,” Bell said. She explained that she had a strong relationship with Kilpatrick and his family since the 1970s. They all attended the same church.

She testified that her first commission check for fundraising for Kilpatrick was for $100,000 in 2003. But she said Kilpatrick suggested he get a piece of her commission, so she eventually gave him a kickback for $40,000 or $50,000.

Her testimony is the most damaging to date. The government has alleged that she made about $900,000 in commissions from fundraising and gave Kilpatrick about $250,000 in kickbacks.  The trial is in its second week. Kilpatrick faces multiple charges of bribery, extortion and income tax evasion.

To read the rest click here.

Observations After Week 1 of Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Corruption Trial

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit
DETROIT –– Observations from the federal courthouse on Lafayette Blvd.:

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is still managing to muster a smile after a week of his public corruption trial. And yes, he’s looking rather dapper, some days wearing a bow tie, others a traditional one.

That being said, the government had the upper hand during the first two days of testimony this week. The last two days went to the defense.

On the first two days of testimony — there was no court on Tuesday because of a Jewish holiday — the government scored points, establishing through bank records, that Kilpatrick suddenly became cash-flush as mayor, depositing more than $500,000 in cash in the bank beyond his salary, from 2002-2008. That helped lay a foundation for the feds, who have alleged that the mayor had no obvious source of cash and got the money through bribes and kickbacks, in part, by rigging city contracts to help his friend, contractor Bobby Ferguson land lucrative contracts.

Kilpatrick’s attorney, Jim Thomas, while cross examining an IRS agent about the cash, suggested that maybe Kilpatrick got legitimate cash gifts. In fact, Thomas mentioned that wealthy businessman Don Barden at a Kilpatrick birthday announced he was giving Kwame $5,000 right on the spot, and invited others do the same. (It wasn’t clear whether it was a check or cash).

To read the full story click here.

Detroit Suburban Police Probing Tip About Whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa’s Body

James R. Hoffa

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Nearly four decades after Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa went missing, the FBI continues to investigate tips that lead agents to dead ends.

This time a local police department is investigating a tip that Hoffa may be buried underneath a driveway in Roseville, a suburb of Detroit, not far from where Hoffa disappeared, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Last week, the Department of Environmental Quality found “an anomaly” under the driveway using ground-scanning radar, according to the Free Press.

Authorities are expected to take soil samples from the site Friday.

A forensic anthropologist also will be headed to the scene, the Free Press reported.

Tips about Hoffa’s whereabouts have led the FBI to search dozens of locations nationwide – all to no avail.

Poor Ex-Detroit Mayor, He Had Too Much Cash: Friends Says he Passed on $90,000 to Him

 

Kwame Kilpatrick (far right) leaves courthouse/deadline detroit

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Poor Kwame Kilpatrick.

He’s got a cash problem.

No, not a shortage. Too much.

On Monday, the feds produced bank statements showing that he deposited about $531,000 in cash — beyond his paychecks — while he was mayor from 2002 to 2008. He also used $280,000 in cash to pay off credit card debt.

On Tuesday,  on the third day of trial in federal court in his public corruption probe, the prosecution delivered more damaging testimony about cash. The feds claim all his cash could only have come his way illegally, arguing that there was no other obvious explanation.

Mahlon Clift, a close friend from college who considered the ex-mayor a “brother”, testified today that he came to Detroit from Chicago in 2008 to support Kilpatrick, who was having problems as mayor and at home.

While staying at the Atheneum hotel in Greektown, Clift, a jeweler, said he got a call from contractor Bobby Ferguson, who was a friend and a close friend of Kilpatrick.

Ferguson came to the room and handed him a shopping bag with $90,000 and said for him to hold it for “Black.” Clift testified that he understood the cash was for Kilpatrick, who Ferguson sometimes called “Black.” He said there were in nine stacks of $10,000, each with $100 and $50 bills.

To read full story click here.

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Was Swimming in Cash, Prosecutor Says

Kwame Kilpatrick top (right) leaves court at close of first day of trial. /Deadline Detroit photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — The prosecution lit into Kwame Kilpatrick in opening arguments today, and the defense countered with sharp criticism of the charges. By 1:55p.m., the first day of battle was over, opening the way for the government to call its first witnesses on Monday in the biggest case in Detroit history in memory.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow began the morning by carving up Kilpatrick, claiming as mayor he rigged tens of millions of dollars in contracts for his friend Bobby Ferguson and his father Bernard while lining his own pockets with bribes and kickbacks. He said if Ferguson didn’t get a piece of a contract, Victor Mercado, the head of the water and sewerage department at the time, would hold up or cancel the contract.

Kilpatrick faces 32 counts of public corruption along with co-defendants Ferguson, a close friend and contractor; father Bernard who had a consulting firm; and Mercado.

The prosecution tried painting Kilpatrick as man with plenty of questionable cash. Chutkow said he had at least $540,000 in cash above his paycheck during his mayoral reign, and suggested there was more beyond what the government could document. He noted that Kilpatrick would regularly go to the bank and ended up turning over some $280,000 in cash to pay for credit card debt.

To read full story click here.

New York Times Editorial: Fast, Furious and Foolish

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

The recklessness of federal officials in their harebrained scheme to assist in illegal gunrunning to Mexican drug cartels was laid bare in a scathing report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Primary blame for the botched program — known as Operation Fast and Furious — was placed on a group of Arizona-based prosecutors and officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who lost track of hundreds of weapons that were allowed to pass into Mexico in hopes of tracing them to cartel leaders.

Two of the high-powered guns turned up at an Arizona shootout in 2010 that killed an American Border Patrol officer.

The ill-conceived operation put public safety at risk with no effective plan to track the guns, according to the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, who found “misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures,” including slipshod oversight at Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

To read more click here.

 

The U.S. vs Detroit’s Ex-Mayor Kwame Malik Kilpatrick

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — More than two years after he was indicted by the feds, and four years after he resigned in disgrace as mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick steps into the legal ring in federal court Friday,  ready to do battle as he tries to stay free and remain with his wife and kids.

A loss could easily put him behind bars for 10 or 15 years or more. A win would give him freedom and a crown of invincibility.

Flanked by his attorneys, Kilpatrick, 42, will go up against the full-force of the Justice Department and FBI in what is easily the highest profile trial in Detroit in recent memory. The trial is expected to last about four months.

The prosecution, in opening statements today will vilify him, portraying him as the kingpin of the “Kilpatrick Enterprise”, a criminal organization that used city hall to make lots of money for family and friends by rigging contracts and extorting donations to three non-profits.

Kilpatrick’s attorney is likely to portray him as a mayor who cared dearly about his job and the people and was wrongly accused.

The feds will come armed with a full arsenal; wiretaps, surveillance video, his text messages and prosecution witnesses including friends and former appointees.

To read the full story click here.