Star witness Derrick Miller is a greedy liar who sold out his high-school pal and former boss Kwame Kilpatrick in hopes of going home to his wife and kid, not federal prison, according to testimony Friday.
Miller faced his roughest day on the witness stand as Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer attacked his credibility and motivation behind a 2011 plea deal to bribery and tax charges.
Defense lawyer James C. Thomas also tried poking holes in Miller’s testimony about an alleged bathroom payoff, extortion and a racketeering conspiracy allegedly headed by the former Detroit mayor.
Miller returns at 9 a.m. Monday for a fifth day on the witness stand.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Star witness Derrick Miller hopes he receives no prison time and goes home to his wife and son — not prison for 10 years.
Miller, a high school friend and trusted aide of Kwame Kilpatrick’s, was grilled about the plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors in 2011. Miller agreed to testify and cooperate in exchange for prosecutors recommending less than 10 years in prison on bribery and tax charges.
“You want (prosecutors) to recommend less time,” Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer James C. Thomas said.
“Absolutely,” Miller said. “I don’t know if they’re happy with my testimony. My cooperation is cooperation and whether they are happy or sad, I’m here to tell what I know.”
Under the plea deal, Miller faces up to 10 years in prison and a $200,000 fine, though he could spend less time in prison if he provides substantial help to prosecutors.
There are no eyewitnesses to corroborate claims Kwame Kilpatrick pocketed a $10,000 payoff inside the Asian Village restaurant, the ex-mayor’s lawyer said Friday.
Defense attorney James C. Thomas tackled an unseemly claim by former aide Derrick Miller that he gave Kilpatrick a payoff from Asian Village owner Andrew Park in fall 2007.
Park was pursuing loans from a city pension fund at the time, according to testimony.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer attacked what he considered inconsistencies in Miller’s tale and lack of details.
“There is nobody here to corroborate that (Kilpatrick) met you that day, other than you,” Thomas said.
“That’s correct,” Miller said.
The lawyer suggested the tale isn’t believable.
It makes no sense for Kilpatrick to order Miller to collect the cash and then drive to the restaurant to pick up the money.
“Is that what your testimony is?” Thomas asked.
“Yes,” Miller said.
Miller didn’t recall whether the Detroit restaurant was open or which room he was in when Park gave him the money.
Miller admitted he asked the mayor to meet inside the restaurant bathroom to avoid security cameras.
“Did (Kilpatrick) have his security staff with him?” Thomas asked.
“Yes, they were always with him,” Miller said.
“Do you remember who?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t,” Miller said.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer attacked Miller over his motivation for reaching a plea deal with prosecutors and testify against the former mayor.
“You saw the government as a train at the end of the track and unless you could duck out of the way you were going to be hit,” Thomas said.
Miller admitted he is testifying in hopes of serving less than 10 years in prison. Without the plea deal, Miller was facing 168-210 months in prison, if convicted.
“You knew you were looking at basketball scores,” Thomas said.
“I’m here testifying in hopes I would get a sentence reduction,” Miller said.
Derrick Miller introduced a Bloomfield Hills businessman to city pension board officials because he wanted to influence a $117 million deal and pocket cash, Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer said Friday.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer was trying to show Miller improperly influenced the deal before resigning from the city in fall 2007 because he stood to pocket more than $500,000.
The line of questioning focused on lies Miller told, a fight outside a Greektown restaurant and attempts to throw the FBI off his trail.
Miller said there was nothing improper about his involvement in the deal involving General Motors parts warehouses because it wasn’t funded until December 2007, at least two months after he quit working for Kilpatrick.
But defense lawyer James C. Thomas said Miller was introducing businessman Robert Shumake to pension officials months earlier.
“You were thinking you were going to get a commission later so you intervened on his behalf with pension board members,” Thomas said.
“No, if I introduced him to people at the pension board level, it’s just because I did,” Miller said.
“Not because you were going to make $500,000?” Thomas asked.
“No,” Miller said.
Miller previously testified he hid his involvement from a Detroit pension fund because he worried trustees wouldn’t approve the deal if they knew he had a financial interest.
“I didn’t want anyone on the pension board to have an idea that I was involved in that transaction in any way,” Miller said Thursday. “I wasn’t sure that my relationship with the mayor…was cause for the transaction to not go through.”
Miller and Shumake later fought over the deal, Kilpatrick’s lawyer said.
“You had a fight outside Mosaic,” a Greektown restaurant, Thomas said. “A physical confrontation that people saw.”
“Was it physical?” Miller said. “I don’t know if I touched him.”
“You were hot,” Thomas said.
“I was hot,” Miller said.
“You were not getting what you expected,” Thomas said.
“I was hot,” Miller said.
Miller and a lawyer pal later doctored documents to hide payments from the Shumake deal, according to testimony.
Miller said he and attorney Shikha Hamilton created a promissory note to mask the payments after learning that a grand jury had subpoenaed documents related to the deal.
“You got a lawyer to doctor a document with you to be submitted to a federal grand jury, correct?” Thomas asked.
“I suppose,” Miller said. “She did it and I did it, yes.”
Derrick Miller was a greedy thief who schemed to capitalize on a city-funded real estate deal, according to testimony Friday.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer questioned the government’s star witness about a real estate scheme involving Miller and independent contractor Tim Cook, who was working with the firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
“What was in it for you?” Thomas asked.
“Money,” Miller said.
Miller hedged at one point, disagreeing that Cook was a good friend.
“He was a good enough friend to sit around a bar with and scheme how to get money out of Jones Lang LaSalle,” Kilpatrick’s lawyer said.
Star witness Derrick Miller could not recall exactly when he pocketed payoffs from a former Cobo Center contractor or details surrounding the payments.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer tried exploiting Miller’s fuzzy memory and cast doubt on his credibility during a lightening-round of questions Friday.
The questioning focused on ex-Cobo contractor Karl Kado, who allegedly handed Miller thousands in cash several times, and money meant for Kilpatrick.
“Were they packaged in any way?” Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas asked.
“I can’t recall,” Miller said.
“Do you recall dates?” Thomas asked.
“I cannot,” Miller said.
“Do you remember the date of the first payment?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t remember exactly,” Miller said. “It was definitely in the first term.”
“Do you remember who was running Cobo Hall?” Thomas asked.
“I believe it was Lou,” Miller said.
That’s Lou Pavledes, a former Cobo director who admitted taking bribes from Kado. Pavledes was sentenced to 14 months in prison for a banking offense.
“How was (the cash) packaged?” Thomas asked again.
“I can’t recall,” Miller said.
“The second time, who was running Cobo Hall?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t remember,” Miller said.
“How was it packaged?” the lawyer asked.
“I don’t recall,” Miller said.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer asked whether the payments meant Kado owned Miller.
“He felt he owned you,” Thomas said.
“I was compromised,” Miller said.
Derrick Miller admitted Friday he was not 100 percent honest with the FBI during five sit-down meetings in 2010, months before he was indicted alongside Kwame Kilpatrick.
Miller said he left out details that could incriminate Kilpatrick, his high-school friend and political boss.
“There were questions they asked that I was not completely honest with them as it relates to your client,” Miller told Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas.
Thomas was trying to undercut the credibility of the government’s star witness, portraying Miller as a liar who offered Kilpatrick to the feds in return for a sweetheart deal.
“What were you talking to them for if not to talk your way out of it?” Thomas asked. “Was it to give them information out of the goodness of your heart?”
Miller said he wanted to know what dirt agents had on him.
“There was a possibility I could go to jail, yes,” Miller said.
“For a long time,” Thomas said.
The FBI meetings didn’t lead to a plea deal for Miller, originally.
Miller faced up to 20 years in prison after being indicted in December 2010 on racketeering charges.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer said Miller didn’t come clean until after reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors in fall 2011.
During his cross examination this morning, Derrick Miller was going through a stack of papers given to him by James C. Thomas, Kwame Kilpatrick’s defense attorney, when he pulled one out, folded it and put it in his breast pocket.
Thomas immediately asked if that was one of his documents. Miller then pulled it out and handed it to Thomas.
The lawyer then looked at it, folded it back up and put it in his breast pocket. Neither man said what was on the sheet of paper or why either would want to keep it.
For now, it remains a mystery, much like the contents of the briefcase that was central to the “plot” of Pulp Fiction.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer got off to another rough start Friday while questioning star witness Derrick Miller.
Attorney James C. Thomas slaughtered the name of a donor to the ex-mayor’s
alleged slush fund nonprofit group, got blocked while asking argumentative questions and turned surly with the government’s star witness.
Thomas also tried painting Miller as a government rat who met with the FBI five times before being indicted in December 2010.
“You were trying to make a deal,” Thomas said.
“Are you trying to hide behind the attorney/client privilege?” Thomas asked.
“I wanted to see what they had and what they knew,” Miller said.
Miller didn’t strike a deal with prosecutors until September 2011, almost one year after being indicted alongside Kilpatrick, his high-school friend and former boss.
Miller faces up to 10 years in prison but is cooperating in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.
The testy exchange was one of several feisty moments Friday.
Earlier, Thomas asked Miller about a $40,000 check to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund from homeless shelter operator Jon Rutherford’s company, DPR Management.
Thomas called the company KPR.
Miller, who hasn’t conceded much during four days on the witness stand, corrected the lawyer.
“You mean DPR?” Miller asked.
“Yes,” Thomas said.
The two later scrapped as Thomas tried to undercut Miller’s credibility.
Thomas asked if Miller remembered being charged with racketeering conspiracy alongside Kilpatrick in December 2010.
“I don’t remember all the charges,” Miller said.
“You don’t remember being charged with racketeering?” Thomas asked.
“Was that one of the charges?” Miller said.
“Are you telling me you don’t remember being charged with racketeering?” Thomas said.
“If that was one of the charges, OK,” Miller said.
“I imagine you were so concerned that you looked at the indictment to figure out what they were talking about,” Thomas said.
“OK,” Miller said.
“OK, is that a yes?” Thomas snapped.
“Was that a question?” Miller said.
“Do you want me to put a question mark on it?” the lawyer said.
Kwame Kilpatrick may not be a model parolee, but he’s a damn good tether model.
Kilpatrick lifted the cuff of his pants Friday after going through courthouse security, giving reporters a flash of the tether parole officials strapped to his right ankle a day earlier.
Kilpatrick was all smiles, teasing reporters nearby, saying something along the lines of “You came here for this?”
This isn’t the first tether for Kilpatrick. He wore one in 2008 amid the text-message scandal.
The tether didn’t weigh Kilpatrick down while jousting with people on Twitter late Thursday.
@razzbrazz Thank you for stopping your day and reaching out to me.You really love me.I am so humbled.Thank you!LOL!
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) January 11, 2013
Derrick Miller continues to be treated like a rock star while in Detroit testifying against his pal, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
He gets chauffeured trips to and from court, private parking away from reporters and, best of all, protection from pesky process servers.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has spent months trying, and failing, to serve Miller with a civil lawsuit stemming from a Sterling Heights sinkhole collapse.
Prosecutors allege Kilpatrick pressured contractors to make sure contractor Bobby Ferguson got a payday and conspired to withhold a separate contract until his friend got the money.
Miller is a defendant in the lawsuit.
He has successfully dodged process servers. The hunt was so hard, a city lawyer suggested Miller was in the witness protection program.
Now, the city’s lawyers want to slap Miller with a copy of the lawsuit while he is in town testifying against Kilpatrick.
They waited for Miller outside court Monday and Tuesday. He never appeared because Miller is being shuttled to and from court every day by the feds.
So city lawyers want the U.S. Marshals Service to do their dirty work.
“Due to the high-profile nature of that trial, DWSD specifically asks that Miller not be served in or around the trial courtroom. Instead, the Marshals could serve him either somewhere else discreet within the courthouse or at his place of lodging….such an approach would be the best way to affect proper service while minimizing the possibility for disruption or unease in relation to the criminal trial.”
No dice, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland wrote Thursday.
Miller, a Virginia resident, likely is immune from being served with a lawsuit while in town testifying in court.
“Under the general rule, a witness ‘coming from another state or jurisdiction, [is] exempt from the service of civil process while in attendance upon court, and during a reasonable time in coming and going.’”