And for the first time, jurors heard Kilpatrick speak during the trial. Prosecutors played a video of a 2001 debate between Kilpatrick and his opponent, Gil Hill. During the debate, Kilpatrick said he hadn’t spent “one penny” of money from his charity, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, because doing so would be illegal.
Prosecutors then called a pollster who said his firm received almost $36,000 from the Civic Fund to conduct polling and hold focus groups. The political work focused on Kilpatrick’s viability as a mayoral candidate, the pollster testified.
The expense was illegal, prosecutors allege, though defense lawyer James C. Thomas disagreed.
And congrats to jurors, at least those who haven’t fallen by the wayside. Today, Lady Justice bumped their pay from $40 to $50 a day – plus mileage.
The real bonus, though, was Thursday, when jurors heard testimony about over-the-shoulder kickback holders, a pistol-whipping contractor’s soft side and a dead cable mogul making it rain on Kilpatrick.
Next week is a short one. The trial won’t be held on Monday and Friday.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Detroit voters who participated in focus groups during Kwame Kilpatrick’s run for mayor ripped the candidate in 2001.
Voters said they were concerned about cronyism, ties to special interests and questioned whether Kilpatrick was committed to the race. They also were mixed about his family, including his mom, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and his father, Bernard, according to testimony Friday.
The voters wondered if Kilpatrick “really wants to run or if his parents just want him to run,” according to focus group results read in court.
Nine years later, Kilpatrick and his father would be indicted in one of the area’s largest public corruption cases. Prosecutors allege Kwame Kilpatrick and others extorted businessman, pocketed bribes, defrauded donors and dodged taxes.
There was nothing illegal about Kwame Kilpatrick’s charity paying a pollster almost $36,000 because the work focused on Detroit issues and didn’t urge voters to elect Kilpatrick, his lawyer countered.
Attorney James C. Thomas questioned pollster Daniel Gotoff about work his firm did in 2001 for Kilpatrick’s mayoral campaign. His firm conducted focus groups and polling and was paid by Kilpatrick’s charity, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Prosecutors contend the expense was illegal and that Kilpatrick spent the charity’s money on personal and political expenses.
“As long as you’re not talking about ‘vote for somebody’ and you’re talking about issues, it’s appropriate, correct?” Thomas asked the pollster.
“As far as I know, yes, but I’m not an expert,” Gotoff said.
The polling asked likely Detroit voters their feelings about 14 people, including Kilpatrick and issues ranging from city parks and services.
“Not one place in here says vote for Kwame Kilpatrick,” Thomas told the pollster. “You are assessing people’s opinions.”
Thomas pressed the pollster about why his firm was hired. At the time, in early 2001, Kilpatrick hadn’t officially declared that he was running for mayor.
The firm was hired to assess the viability of a Kilpatrick campaign and determine what voters thought about the direction of the city, Gotoff said.
But the polling asked voters about several candidates, Thomas countered.
Gotoff wouldn’t budge.
“No, it was focused around the Kilpatrick exploratory effort,” Gotoff said.
The Civic Fund charity was set up to promote community activities.
“Wouldn’t you agree that the polling information you did would be important to know if you were going to promote community activities that would promote neighborhoods?” Thomas asked the pollster while trying to show jurors the expense was legitimate.
“Uh, in an indirect way, I suppose,” Gotoff said.
A pollster hired to question Detroiters in 2001 about Kwame Kilpatrick’s first run for mayor testified his firm was paid almost $36,000 by Kilpatrick’s purported charity.
Prosecutors allege the expense was illegal. IRS laws barred the Kilpatrick Civic Fund from paying money to a political campaign.
Daniel Gotoff testified his firm was hired by Kilpatrick media guru Bob Berg to conduct a survey of likely Detroit voters in spring 2001. The 20-minute survey probed people’s feelings about Kilpatrick’s candidacy.
Gotoff said his firm’s bills were paid by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
He was shown copies of two checks from the Civic Fund payable to his firm Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates for polling work. The checks, signed by Kilpatrick and his mistress/chief of staff Christine Beatty, totaled $21,930.
“We found there was a real opening for Kilpatrick in the race,” Gotoff testified. “As voters learned more about Kilpatrick, they were more likely to support him.”
Kilpatrick won the 2001 election, beating local politician and police official Gil Hill.
The expense is one of many flagged by prosecutors, who allege Kilpatrick treated the Civic Fund as a personal and political slush fund. Kilpatrick is accused of defrauding Civic Fund donors and trying to extort a $100,000 donation from a Detroit businessman.
The firm also organized focus groups for Kilpatrick’s mayoral run in 2001.
The firm was paid $14,000 in July 2001 by the Civic Fund. Again, Beatty and Kilpatrick signed the check.
In both instances, the firm billed the organization Kilpatrick for Mayor but was paid by the Civic Fund.
Results of the focus groups showed “there were some questions about his age, but they didn’t pose real barriers,” Gotoff testified. “There were questions about his political connections but…when voters heard him speaking, he came across as a strong, knowledgeable leader.”
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer tried to blunt the significance of text messages unearthed during the corruption trial alleging the former mayor met with his fundraiser to pocket kickbacks.
Lawyer James C. Thomas said a text message from Kilpatrick staffer Samara Bradley does not prove the mayor met fundraiser Emma Bell.
“Emma Bell is here,” according to the text in August 2003 from Bradley, who would later be tapped for a high-paying city gig.
“Tell her to come to Chris office,” Kilpatrick texted the aide, a reference to his mistress and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty.
Thomas zeroed in on the texts, which prosecutors introduced to corroborate Bell’s testimony Thursday. Bell said she delivered cash kickbacks stuffed in her bra to the mayor during private meetings at his office.
“It doesn’t say come see me privately,” Thomas asked FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman.
“He doesn’t say come meet me,” the lawyer says. “It’s a pivot. He says ‘tell her to come to Chris’ office.’”
Kwame Kilpatrick’s former media guru Bob Berg was spotted inside federal court this morning and is expected to testify soon in the corruption case.
Bob Berg was involved in a controversial incident during Kilpatrick’s tenure.
He was hired by the city to quell an uproar over the firing of former Deputy Chief Gary Brown. Brown and former Officer Harold Nelthrope sued, alleging they suffered retaliation at the hands of Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit for probing reports of bad behavior by the mayor and his bodyguards.
Amid the uproar, Berg released a confidential memo identifying Nelthrope as the person who contacted Internal Affairs with claims of misconduct by the mayor, his wife and his bodyguards.
A jury in 2007 ordered the city to pay $6.5 million, plus interest, to the two former officers. With interest, the amount grew to $8.4 million.
Berg also served as press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young from 1983 to 1993.
Prosecutors played a televised debate between Kwame Kilpatrick and challenger Gil Hill, the foul-mouthed Beverly Hills Cop actor and City Councilman who ran against Kilpatrick during the 2001 mayor’s race.
During the debate, Kilpatrick said he had not misspent any money donated to the purported charity the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which prosecutors allege he treated like his personal piggy bank.
“I haven’t used one penny, one penny of the Civic Fund because it’s not allowed by law,” Kilpatrick said during the debate.
Also during the debate, Kilpatrick deflected questions about wrongdoing during his time as a state lawmaker.
“I have done nothing illegal or improper since I’ve been born,” Kilpatrick said. “I think I’ve made some mistakes like most adults have and I’ve learned from those.”
Prosecutors say Kilpatrick misspent Civic Fund donations on yoga classes, golf clubs, summer camp for his kids, counter-surveillance and anti-bugging equipment and more.
During the debate, Kilpatrick brushed off a question about whether he would disclose a list of Civic Fund donors.
“The board of the Civic Fund says it will not allow us to disclose each and every person who has given to the fund,” Kilpatrick said. “I have to respect the wishes of the board. I’m just one member of the board.”
The board was stocked with Kilpatrick relatives and classmates from Cass Tech. The board members included his mistress and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, aide Derrick Miller and sister Ayanna Ferguson.
IRS records show Ayanna Ferguson was paid $43,115 renting her house out in 2008 as the headquarters of the Civic Fund.
Miller, meanwhile, is expected to testify against Kilpatrick in federal court.
He was an original member of the alleged Kilpatrick Enterprise, and allegedly gave Kilpatrick a $10,000 powder-room payoff. He later pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the feds.
Just-released text messages displayed in federal court Friday appear to confirm Kwame Kilpatrick met his fundraiser inside the mayor’s office in August 2003.
Bell says she delivered kickbacks to Kilpatrick inside the mayor’s office but defense lawyer James C. Thomas has questioned the story.
“Emma wanted to stop in later for @ 5-10 minutes max, what should I tell her,” Kilpatrick aide DeDan Milton texted Kilpatrick.
Milton is a longtime friend and executive assistant to Kilpatrick who admitted taking about $16,000 in kickbacks in connection with two city land sales. He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and is expected to testify for prosecutors during the corruption trial.
Hours later, another Kilpatrick aided texted the mayor.
“Emma Bell is here,” according to the text from staffer Samara Bradley.
“Tell her to come to Chris office,” Kilpatrick texted the aide.
Chris is an apparent reference to the mayor’s mistress and chief of staff, Christine Beatty.
An FBI special agent testified today about obtaining Kwame Kilpatrick’s text messages in 2008 after executing search warrants on the city’s provider SkyTel.
Special Agent Robert Beeckman testified about getting text messages belonging to Kilpatrick and three others. They were: the mayor’s mistress and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, key aide Derrick Miller, the mayor’s father and co-defendant Bernard Kilpatrick and political liaison Michael Tardif.
Tardif was a Democratic political consultant and adviser to Kilpatrick who was paid $138,500 from Kilpatrick’s campaign fund between 2005 and 2008.
Beeckman is assigned to the FBI’s public corruption unit and is involved in the ongoing probe of Wayne County executive Robert Ficano’s administration.
Federal investigators obtained almost 370,000 text messages. Beeckman is talking about how each SkyTel pager had a unique pin number associated with each user’s account.
Prosecutors need to authenticate the text messages from each user. That’s possible due to several distinguishing characteristics unique to Kilpatrick and the others.
For example, Kwame Kilpatrick frequently used the word “COOL!” when responding to texts, prosecutors said.
Bobby Ferguson’s texts were unique for less flattering reasons, prosecutors said.
The texts included typos and incorrect grammar, they said.
Kwame Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas is asking fundraiser Emma Bell’s driver if the mayor’s mistress ever received checks given by donors to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Driver Angela Burris said she never saw mistress Christine Beatty collect checks collected at fundraisers for the Civic Fund. Prosecutors allege Kilpatrick treated like his personal piggy bank, spending donations on yoga classes, golf clubs, summer camp for his kids, counter-surveillance and anti-bugging equipment and more.
Thomas also questioned Burris about allegations the fundraiser carried large amounts of cash — kickbacks prosecutors allege was hand-delivered to Kilpatrick at his office.
“Did you ever see Emma Bell with large amounts of cash?” Thomas asked. “Did you ever see her hand him large amounts of cash?”
“No,” Burris said.
The lawyer also asked about allegations Bell hid money and cashier’s checks under her bed.
“What knowledge do you have of her hoarding cashier’s checks in a can under her bed?” the lawyer asked.
“If she did, she never told me,” Burris testified.
Bell testified Thursday that she stashed cash in a can and hid cashier’s checks under her mattress until sharing the money with Kilpatrick. Bell didn’t want to keep the money in the bank because she owed delinquent taxes to the IRS and state of Michigan.
Burris had dinner with Bell last night after the fundraiser spent a grueling day on the witness stand.
Thomas is reminding the jury about Bell’s drinking and gambling. He has suggested Bell didn’t pay Kilpatrick kickbacks. Instead, she blew the cash at Greektown Casino.
“Were there times (Bell) spent several hours at the casino gambling?” Thomas asked Burris.
“Yes,” she said.
“Were you aware that she had a drinking problem?” the lawyer asked.
“No,” Burris said.
“Did she ever tell you she was going to give the mayor money?” Thomas asked.
“No,” Burris said.
“Or give him a portion of her money?” Thomas asked.
“No,” the driver said.
“Did she ever gripe or complain about paying a kickback to the mayor?” Thomas asked.
“No,” Burris said.
Angela Burris is expected to face questions about shuttling Bell between First Independence Bank in Detroit to withdraw cash that later was given as kickbacks to Kilpatrick at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, also known as the City-County Building.
In all, prosecutors allege Bell gave Kilpatrick more than $286,000 in kickbacks. Bell testified Thursday she stashed cash in her bra and hand-delivered cash to Kilpatrick inside the mayor’s office.
Burris said she drove Bell to the bank more than 10 times.
“When you left the bank, where would you go?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Doeh asked Burris.
“The City-County Building,” Burris said.
“Would she tell you who she would be meeting there?” Doeh asked.
“She said she would be going to the mayor’s office,” Burris said.
“If this case was in another State, not paid for by taxpayers, & my life was not on the line, this ish would be laughable.”
Kilpatrick was responding to a tweet from MVP Of Da 4thQuarter
@_mrwinn3rstorm, who tweeted the former mayor the following earlier Thursday.