Jurors on Wednesday heard about Kwame Kilpatrick being treated to free flights, lavish New York City shopping trips and using strong-arm tactics to steer work to his pal Bobby Ferguson and profit from the mayor’s office.
Multimillionaire Grosse Pointe Farms businessman Tony Soave testified about bankrolling Kilpatrick’s high-flying lifestyle in order to protect a $50 million sewer deal and ensure future city deals.
Soave cracked jokes and leaned his right arm on the witness stand while casually describing a pattern of alleged extortion involving Kilpatrick and Ferguson.
Soave returns to the witness stand at 9 a.m. Thursday in federal court.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Grosse Pointe Farms businessman Tony Soave was on vacation at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla., when he got a call from Kwame Kilpatrick in April 2007.
The mayor was on the phone.
“He wanted to know if I could help get him some rooms,” Soave testified. He is the latest contractor to testify about allegedly being extorted by the mayor in order to keep and win city deals.
Soave was in the exercise room at the Ritz when the mayor called. He asked his personal trainer for help booking rooms.
The trainer helped.
Kilpatrick flew down with his family and stayed in two rooms, Soave testified.
The total bill: $9,300.
Soave picked up part of the tab.
And in 2004, when the Detroit Pistons were in the NBA finals, Kilpatrick wanted tickets, Soave said.
Soave paid a broker $10,000 for floor seats for the mayor.
“They were great seats,” Soave said.
“At some point, did he offer to reimburse you?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.
“No,” Soave said.
A Grosse Pointe Farms businessman allegedly extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick provided 20 free round-trip flights on his private jets for the ex-Detroit mayor and members of his inner circle.
The first trip happened during an August 2003 blackout and stretched over several years and trips across the United States, Bermuda and the Bahamas. In all,the flights cost $260,000 — but Kilpatrick flew for free.
From the indictment:
“(Soave) continued to pay for KWAME KILPATRICK’s flights in part because he knew KWAME KILPATRICK could adversely impact his businesses in the City if he refused.”
Kilpatrick was in the Bahamas with his family in August 2003 when Soave was approached for the first time, the businessman testified.
“We brought him back here after things got stabilized here,” Soave testified.
Soave said he had three private jets, including a Learjet 45, a Dassault Falcon 20 and a Turbo Commander.
There were numerous requests to use the plane by Kilpatrick or his friend and aide Derrick Miller, Soave said.
“At some point, did you ever talk to (Kilpatrick) about billing him for the flights?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.
“I brought up to him that maybe I should be billing him for some of these flights because it was getting to be a lot of flights,” Soave said.
“What did the mayor say?” Bullotta asked.
“He said he would look into it,” Soave said.
Kilpatrick never paid, he added.
Soave treated the flights as income on his own taxes.
“Why did you keep allowing him to use the jets?” Bullotta asked.
“I wanted to keep him happy,” Soave said. “I didn’t want him holding another job up, OK? There was one job held up and I had that in my mind all the time and I didn’t want it to happen again.”
Soave also flew Kilpatrick and his mistress Christine Beatty to New York City.
Soave said he bought a $6,000 Cartier watch for Kilpatrick’s father Bernard, a purse and other items.
Bobby Ferguson bragged after his pal Kwame Kilpatrick allegedly forced a sewer contractor to hire him.
Sewer contractor Tony Soave testified about his firm Inland Waters’ relationship with Ferguson after the mayor allegedly forced him to hire Ferguson in order to win a $50 million city contract.
Ferguson had a rocky relationship with Soave executive Kathleen McCann, Soave said.
Several times, Ferguson boasted about his involvement in the deal and why the city gave the $50 million contract to Inland, the businessman testified.
“On occasion, he would say ‘you realize you’re here because of me,’” Soave said. “That did not make us feel good. It sounds like a little threat when you hear that.”
A prosecutor asked Soave what message was sent by Ferguson.
“That means that you probably should get along with me,” Soave said. “Or there could be consequences.
“He was a troubling contractor for us. We had a lot of problems handling him one way or another and his wanting more work, more money, more things all the time,” Soave continued.
Ferguson’s behavior was unusual for a subcontractor, Soave said.
“It was unusual for a subcontractor to talk to us the way he talked to us,” Soave said.
At one point, Ferguson demanded a 50-50 split of Inland Waters’ next city deal.
“I told him he could go f— himself,” Soave said.
Kwame Kilpatrick held up a $50 million sewer deal in 2002 because contractor Tony Soave hadn’t hired Bobby Ferguson, the mayor’s close pal.
Soave, who allegedly was extorted by the mayor, testified about a meeting he had at the mayor’s office in April 2002 after his firm’s contract had stalled.
Soave was anxious for his firm Inland Waters to start work on the sewer deal. He was told to go see Kilpatrick.
“I asked him what the holdup was on the job,” Soave testified. “I was anxious and had people waiting to go to work. It was a big important thing. It was a large contract for us.”
“What did he tell you?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.
“He told me I had the wrong subcontractor,” Soave said. “I asked him what the right one was. He told me Ferguson was the right one.
“I told him OK, I’ll make the change.”
Prosecutors showed jurors an entry from Kilpatrick’s mayoral calendar showing he met with Soave on April 23, 2002.
Soave said he dumped his other minority subcontractor, Charlie Williams and hired Ferguson.
Williams is chairman of a Soave-related firm MPS Group.
Williams is a board member of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport authority who voted to appoint Turkia Mullin as its CEO after making $420,000 weeks earlier from a land sale she helped engineer, records obtained by The Detroit News show.
Soave said he was upset having to dump Williams.
So he paid Williams $200,000.
Businessman Tony Soave took the witness stand with a quip Wednesday.
Soave, a Grosse Pointe Farms businessman allegedly extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick, followed an IRS agent to the stand.
“This seat’s warm,” Soave said, triggering laughter throughout the courtroom.
Bernard Kilpatrick deposited more than $605,000 cash into his personal bank accounts during his son’s tenure as Detroit mayor.
From 2002 to 2008, the political consultant made cash deposits totaling $605,055 into his accounts, an IRS agent said Wednesday.
Bernard Kilpatrick is facing tax charges along with racketeering conspiracy and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted following the City Hall corruption trial. He is accused of extorting contractors who wanted to win or retain city deals.
Earlier testimony focused on Bernard Kilpatrick’s gambling habits.
“On any of his tax returns, did he declare that he won money gambling that exceeded his losses?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked the IRS agent.
“No,” the agent said.
In 2003, one year into his son’s tenure, Kilpatrick deposited $140,240 in cash into his personal accounts.
That was his most lucrative year, according to bank records.
His worst: 2008.
That’s the year Kwame Kilpatrick resigned amid the text-message scandal.
In 2008, Bernard Kilpatrick deposited $23,900 in cash.
An Ecorse firm, National Media Inc., paid Bernard Kilpatrick $134,000 for consulting work between 2006 and 2008.
The principal of National Media is Bernard Kilpatrick’s pal, former Detroit Pistons guard Archie Clark, according to testimony.
Earlier testimony showed Kilpatrick tried to include Clark in a Cobo Center deal with businessman Karl Kado.
“Is it fair to say for any of those years, you have no personal knowledge of what the source of the cash was that went into his accounts,” Kilpatrick lawyer John Shea asked.
“That’s correct,” the IRS agent said.
“There’s nothing on the dollar bills themselves that say where they’re from,” Shea said.
“All I saw was the deposit slips,” the agent said.
“I am not suggesting the $605,000 is all gambling winnings, but you don’t know to what extent it represents Karl Kado money or birthday gifts or gambling winnings or lottery winnings,” Shea asked.
“Correct,” the IRS agent said.
Grosse Pointe Farms businessman Tony Soave’s sprawling home offers a hint at the wealth he showered on ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The home overlooking Lake St. Clair is one of the largest and most magnificent mansions in the Grosse Pointes.
Soave is accused of letting Kilpatrick fly for free on his private jet, bankrolling the ex-mayor’s New York City shopping sprees and splurging on other perks while pursuing multimillion city deals.
Defense lawyers said it is inconceivable that Soave, who sold his garbage-hauling company for $750 million, and who has contacts with known mob associates, could be extorted by Kilpatrick.
Prosecutors allege Kilpatrick canceled a rival firm’s $10 million water sewer-repair deal and gave it to a Soave-related company, which agreed to hire the mayor’s pal, Bobby Ferguson.
Kilpatrick also allegedly steered work to Ferguson after a massive Sterling Heights sewer collapse and held up a $12 million amendment until the Soave-related firm agreed to pay Ferguson $350,000.
Separately, Soave save more than $283,000 to a variety of political groups and candidates, including Kilpatrick’s mom, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He also bankrolls the Citizens for Michigan political action committee.
And he gave so much money, $500,000, to St. John Hospital and Medical Center that the folks there named a waiting room after him.
A Grosse Pointe Farms businessman who allegedly bribed Kwame Kilpatrick with private flights to Bermuda and beyond, a New York City shopping trip, $10,000 worth of courtside Detroit Pistons tickets and allegedly helped Kilpatrick’s ex-mistress Christine Beatty lease a Land Rover, is expected to testify today.
Business Tony Soave, a multimillionaire businessman allegedly extorted by the former Detroit mayor, was spotted outside federal court this morning.
Soave is expected to face defense questions about his connections with known mob associates and the theory that he was too powerful to be extorted by a politician.
According to prosecutors, Kilpatrick held a $50 million contract to fix aging sewers until Soave dumped another businessman, the prosecutor said.
Soave was CEO of a company called Inland Waters, which is referred to in the indictment as “Company I.”
A lawyer for former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado earlier said Soave tried to ply the bureaucrat with free use of his 100-foot yacht.
According to court records, Soave told federal agents about bribes he paid other officials to win city contracts worth millions. Soave’s lawyer says he was extorted.
Soave told agents he donated $125,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit group, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, helped Beatty get a sweetheart deal on a Land Rover and paid down her bad credit, Mercado’s lawyer claimed in an earlier filing.
Soave also gave the mayor’s father Bernard Kilpatrick a $6,000 watch, according to a court filing.
The list goes on, according to the filing: Soave paid for a Christmas stay at the Ritz hotel in Naples, Fla., plus $3,000 for a personal trainer and paid for gifts for the mayor’s family, including a woman’s purse and shoes.
Bernard Kilpatrick called a Detroit liquor store 159 times to bet on the state lottery — calls that were intercepted by the FBI, which was wiretapping his phone.
One call was played for jurors Wednesday from August 2007, during which Kilpatrick called Tunnel Liquor, asking owner Andrew Kado about the previous day’s numbers.
Andrew Kado is the brother of ex-Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado, who testified he paid at least $360,000 in bribes to Bernard Kilpatrick, his son ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and mayoral aide Derrick Miller.
During the call, Andrew Kado told Bernard Kilpatrick he lost.
“Ahhhhhh,” Bernard Kilpatrick said.
Kado told Kilpatrick he owed him $720 — a small piece of a lottery debt that eventually totaled $85,000.
The call and testimony about Kilpatrick’s lottery debts suggest a motivation for the political consultant to allegedly shake down city contractors for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Kilpatrick also ran up a $20,000 lottery debt at the liquor store, according to testimony.
Karl Kado loaned his brother money to cover the tab.
Prosecutors also showed jurors Bernard Kilpatrick’s text messages from 2007 that indicated the political maestro directed Miller to handle contract matters for Kado.
Kwame Kilpatrick was tight-lipped today about failing to pay $500 restitution to the city and falling short in his community-service requirement.
Kilpatrick ignored questions from reporters while entering federal court with his lawyer James C. Thomas.
He then cut in line past dozens of lawyers, court staff and others waiting in line in frigid temperatures outside court.