Jurors saw FBI surveillance video Friday of Bernard Kilpatrick receiving $2,500 cash from a businessman involved in a bribery-tainted sludge contract.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer, meanwhile, tried to justify the payment, and others, as legitimate compensation for helping the businessman, former Synagro executive James R. Rosendall Jr., navigate City Hall bureaucracy.
FBI videos were one aspect of a multimedia onslaught against ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s father.
A day earlier the feds played wiretapped recordings and surveillance videos while questioning an informant who labeled Bernard Kilpatrick a greedy bully who threatened to kill a $1.2 billion sludge deal unless his palm was properly greased.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday in federal court.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
An FBI informant repeatedly lied to Bernard Kilpatrick, who was demanding money for helping steer a $1.2 billion sludge contract, according to testimony Friday.
The lies emerged in FBI wiretapped phone calls played for the jury by Kilpatrick’s lawyer John Shea.
Shea was trying to undermine testimony from James R. Rosendall Jr., a Synagro Technologies Inc. executive who cooperated with the FBI during the City Hall corruption investigation.
The lawyer also tried to generate sympathy for Kilpatrick, who was strapped for cash as Christmas approached in 2007.
“He was broke, wasn’t he?” Shea asked Rosendall.
“Yes,” Rosendall said.
“So he needed that money,” Shea said.
Kilpatrick and his son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, allegedly shook down Rosendall for at least $100,000 in cash, trips and entertainment in exchange for supporting the Synagro sludge deal, according to prosecutors.
During one call in December 2007, Rosendall concocted a lie to explain why he hadn’t given Bernard Kilpatrick any cash recently. Rosendall said company executives were concerned about reworking the deal to funnel money to Bernard Kilpatrick by adding his girlfriend, Akunna Olumba.
“So you’re giving Bernard another lie about why the agreement he’s been asking you to work on for him has not been reworked yet,” Shea said.
“Yes,” Rosendall said.
In the phone call, Bernard Kilpatrick complained about another consultant, Rayford Jackson, being paid more than $230,000.
“I’m very pissed off,” Kilpatrick said. “Ray out-slicked everybody, it looks like.”
Kwame Kilpatrick is wearing a tether, not a tuxedo, as this year’s North American International Auto Show charity preview gets underway.
And he’s trying to extinguish yet another fire surrounding his parole while standing trial in federal court on racketeering charges that could send him to prison for 20 years.
But years ago, Kilpatrick was a star of the charity show, hanging out with a stable of since-canned auto executives like GM’s Rick Wagoner and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Take a stroll down memory lane.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer continued portraying his client as a weak consultant who had no power to kill a $1.2 billion sludge deal — despite what prosecutors say.
Testimony Friday was aimed at combating an explosive quote from FBI wiretaps played for jurors a day earlier. In the wiretap, Kilpatrick threatened to “blow up the house” and kill the Synagro Technologies Inc. sludge deal unless the mayor’s father got more money.
Shea played another wiretapped conversation for jurors Friday between Synagro executive James R. Rosendall Jr. and partner Rayford Jackson.
During the October 2007 phone call, Jackson said Bernard Kilpatrick didn’t have power to kill the deal.
“He’s saying Bernard Kilpatrick doesn’t have any juice,” Shea said.
“He’s insinuating that,” Rosendall testified. Rosendall is an FBI informant who has spent two days on the witness stand.
Jackson admitted paying thousands of dollars in cash bribes to former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers to influence her vote in the sludge contract. He is serving a five-year sentence for bribery at a federal prison.
Shea has frequently portrayed his client as a legitimate businessman who helped businessmen navigate City Hall. Some of his clients secured city deals legitimately, while others were unable to land city contracts, despite having a son serving as Detroit mayor.
Shea tried undercutting Rosendall’s credibility. He played other phone calls and suggested Rosendall lied to Bernard Kilpatrick about their business dealings.
Bernard Kilpatrick stayed in the background of a $1.2 billion sludge deal not because he was shaking down the company but because Synagro Technologies Inc. was worried about negative public relations, according to testimony.
Defense lawyer John Shea launched a cross-examination of FBI informant James R. Rosendall Jr. on Friday by suggesting Bernard Kilpatrick was a legitimate consultant who helped the company navigate City Hall.
“It was Synagro’s problems with having Bernard Kilpatrick out front on this case, isn’t that true?” Shea asked.
“They had an issue that Bernard Kilpatrick was too close,” Rosendall said.
“It looked bad, didn’t it?” Shea asked.
“Yes,” Rosendall said.
Shea started cross-examining the former Synagro executive after an explosive day in federal court filled with secretly recorded phone calls and meetings in which Rosendall handed Kwame Kilpatrick’s father cash.
Prosecutors allege Bernard Kilpatrick tried to extort Rosendall and pocketed cash payoffs. Kwame Kilpatrick and his father also allegedly received $100,000 worth of cash, private jet flights and entertainment expenses paid by Rosendall in exchange for supporting the sludge deal.
Kwame Kilpatrick on Friday explained a controversial letter sent by his wife Carlita soliciting cash to pay for their sons’ private-school tuition.
The letter, and its possible impact on Kilpatrick’s parole, were outlined in a late-breaking story Thursday.
Here is his full statement, obtained by The Detroit News:
“In my efforts to fully cooperate with the MDOC investigation, I provided this letter along with an explanation of its substance. Our children were presented with an opportunity to attend one of the best schools in the country. The letter was sent to two (2) individuals. We decided, as a family, that our children would not attend the school. We called the 2 individuals and told them of our decision, to not have our boys attend the school. No donations were needed at that point. No donations were received. This explanation was also sent to the MDOC, as an attachment to the letter when it was voluntarily provided. Unfortunately, the explanation was apparently not released with this item from the MDOC “internal” investigation.”
FBI informant James R. Rosendall Jr. scrambled on March 5, 2008, after Bernard Kilpatrick held up five fingers during a meeting — a sign he was demanding a $5,000 payoff.
Rosendall was working with FBI agents, who were secretly recording the meeting outside Kilpatrick’s condo.
The Synagro Technologies Inc. businessman couldn’t wait for the FBI to come up with money quickly so he drove to a bank and withdrew $2,500 — a partial payment for Kilpatrick helping Synagro land a $1.2 billion sludge-hauling contract.
“I could react faster than they could,” Rosendall testified Friday.
Prosecutors played the video for jurors Friday. In it, Bernard Kilpatrick, dressed in a black King Tut sweater, is shown accepting $2,500 cash from Rosendall.
The payment came after Kilpatrick allegedly threatened to blow up the Synagro deal unless he was properly compensated.
“You scared the s— out of me,” Rosendall said.
“I was pissed,” Kilpatrick said on the videotape. “I could have him…not blow it up, but do what you can to stop it for a year, stop it for two years.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta stopped the tape.
“Who was him?” Bullotta asked Rosendall.
“The mayor,” Rosendall testified.
Rosendall testified he gave Kilpatrick another $2,500 during an April 2008 meeting at a pancake restaurant in Southfield.
Rosendall was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison after striking a plea deal based, in part, on payments to Kilpatrick. He was released in May 2011.
The brutal portrait of Bernard Kilpatrick Thursday that emerged Thursday shares similarities with what colleagues told The News in 2010.
The newspaper ran a profile of Kwame Kilpatrick’s father months before a federal grand jury indicted the former Wayne County official in a massive racketeering conspiracy.
From colleague Christine MacDonald’s profile of Bernard Kilpatrick:
The man who vigorously defended his son — even likening his critics to Nazis — had paychecks garnished for child support by the courts. He’s known by two nicknames: “Big Goofy” behind his back and “Killer” to his face.
He embraced a black nationalist church that shunned materialism but became enamored of mob movies and referred to his son as “Michael Corleone” from “The Godfather.”
“There’s something deep down in him,” said Larry Mongo, a businessman who has known Bernard Kilpatrick for nearly 30 years. “He wanted to be known as the top street guy.
“He wanted to be Don Corleone. It was the power. He was living vicariously through the mayor.”
Mongo said the name of Bernard Kilpatrick’s consulting firm, Maestro Associates, conjures images of a puppet master who capitalized on the office his son held from 2002-08. As soon as Kwame Kilpatrick was elected, his father’s persona changed, and he began wearing furs, big hats and diamond Rolex watches, Mongo said.
“For the first time in his life, he was the boss,” Mongo said. “Think about it. What is a maestro?”
When asked about allegedly pocketing bribes in 2009, Kilpatrick offered what has become his central defense.
“How can they bribe me? I don’t work for the city. I’m a private businessman, a consultant.”