In their closing arguments, prosecutors painted Kwame Kilpatrick and contractor pal Bobby Ferguson as crooked princes of the city and the former Detroit mayor’s father, Bernard, as the middleman feeding off corrupt city contracts.
Prosecutors kicked off closing arguments Monday, which should span three days, capping a trial that started in September and featured testimony from about 90 witnesses.
Prosecutors finished by using a video screen to show stacks of cash found in Ferguson’s safe and a list of cash deposits into the former mayor’s bank accounts.
At stake: the fates of three men who face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted of racketeering, extortion and other charges.
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Kwame Kilpatrick was more interested in money than running Detroit, a federal prosecutor said as he asked a jury to convict Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard, and contractor Bobby Ferguson on all charges that could put them in prison for 20 years.
With a video screen showing stacks of cash found in Ferguson’s safe and a list of cash deposits into the former mayor’s bank accounts, Bullotta hammered home his point.
“(Kwame Kilpatrick) wanted money, he wanted power, he was not so much interested in responsibility. He was more interested in opportunity,” he said.
Bullotta’s closing argument lasted a little more htan 90 minutes as he labeled each man a key cog in a racketeering enterprise that took millions from city and suburban residents.
“Kilpatrick Incorporated was wrong, and it was criminal,” he said.
The most important member of the conspiracy was the mayor himself, Bullotta said. Without his control of City Hall, the three men would not have been able to steer contracts and extort businessmen.
“Ask yourself if Kwame Kilpatrick was not part of a conspiracy with Bobby Ferguson and Bernard Kilpatrick, could they ever have extorted a single person without the power of the mayor’s office?” Bullotta asked.
Defense attorneys will get their shot at the jury on Tuesday, with Kwame Kilpatrick’s and Bernard Kilpatrick’s attorneys making their cases. Ferguson’s lawyer will make his closing argument on Thursday.
Prosecutors shifted their focus to Kwame Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, during closing arguments Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta reminded jurors that Bernard Kilpatrick allegedly pocketed payoffs from Synagro Technologies executive James Rosendall, who was pursuing a sludge-hauling deal with the city.
“Bernard Kilpatrick was no consultant,” Bullotta told jurors. “He was an extorter.”
Bullotta urged jurors to disregard defense claims that Bernard Kilpatrick was a legitimate consultant.
The prosecutor played an FBI wiretap of Bernard Kilpatrick leaving a voicemail message for Rosendall, an FBI informant who was on vacation in fall 2007.
“Yeah man, this is BK. Uh, I’d appreciate a call today, vacation or no motherf—– vacation,” Bernard Kilpatrick said on the wiretap.
The same day, Kilpatrick met with Rosendall in a parking lot.
The FBI was watching and recording the meeting.
Bullotta showed jurors a photo of the meeting.
Rosendall is carrying a box of Cristal champagne — a gift for the mayor’s dad.
He also allegedly gave him $3,000 hidden in a pack of gum.
But Bernard Kilpatrick wanted more, the prosecutor said.
He reminded jurors about another secretly recorded meeting during which Bernard Kilpatrick threatened to kill the Synagro deal unless he got more money.
“Would a consultant threaten to go to the mayor to blow up a deal?” Bullotta asked jurors. “Do you have to give him a half case of Cristal and $3,000 in chewing gum box to keep him happy.”
A federal prosecutor, after more than an hour of talking about Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson, has turned his attention to Bernard Kilpatrick, dismissing claims he was a legitimate consultant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said Bernard Kilpatrick, though not a city employee nor a elected official, was directing top city administrators how to deal with Karl Kado, a Cobo Center contractor who said he paid Bernard Kilpatrick thousands to secure city contracts.
Kilpatrick’s defense attorney, John Shea, has suggested Bernard Kilpatrick was a sloppy consultant who tapped his decades of knowledge of state and local politics.
After Kado got a letter from the FBI saying he was a target of an investigation, he went to Bernard Kilpatrick. When they met, Kilpatrick patted Kado down, looking for a listening device.
“Is that something your consultant normally does?” Bullotta asked.
As for consulting, Bullotta said Kado said he didn’t need one.
“Bernard Kilpatrick was no consultant, he was an extorter,” Bullotta said.
Kwame Kilpatrick allegedly forced his own friends to kickback cash.
The former Detroit mayor allegedly demanded money from his aide, Marc Andre Cunningham, who was forced to share commissions from a $30 million pension fund deal with the mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick.
“Why?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked jurors during closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial. “Bernard Kilpatrick didn’t do anything. Bernard Kilpatrick was not his consultant.”
Bullotta then repeated “no deal without me,” a text from the mayor’s pal Bobby Ferguson.
The text has become a mantra during closing arguments and a slogan for Kilpatrick’s criminal racket.
“‘No deal without me’ applied even to Kwame Kilpatrick’s closest friends,” the prosecutor said.
Kilpatrick also enlisted another close pal, Derrick Miller, to fetch kickbacks from Asian Village owner Andrew Park.
Miller delivered a $10,000 payoff to the Detroit mayor in fall 2007, the prosecutor reminded jurors.
Bobby Ferguson showed his power early in Kwame Kilpatrick’s tenure as mayor when he confronted a police officer who had written tickets against his business, a federal prosecutor said.
During closing arguments in Kilpatrick’s five-month public corruption trial, Michael Bullotta said Ferguson confronted Officer Michael Fountain in court.
Both were there, in February 2002, over tickets that Ferguson had broken city environmental laws.
When Ferguson met Fountain in the courthouse hallway, Ferguson was flanked by two Detroit police officers assigned to the mayor’s security detail.
“It would be in your best interests to dismiss these tickets. We know you live in the city and have kids,” Ferguson said, according to Fountain.
Bullotta said it was an example of the type of threat that Ferguson could issue — and one which other alleged victims of the so-called Kilpatrick Enterprise could be expected to shrink from.
In the end, Fountain dismissed the tickets. He first said he had insufficient evidence.
Bullotta said the real reason, though, was fear.
“He dismissed the tickets because he was scared,” Bullotta said.
All it took to move construction contractor Johnson Akinwusi off the naughty list was to buy Kwame Kilpatrick some suits, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta mentioned the suits while reminding jurors about the depths of the alleged criminal racket headed by Kilpatrick.
Akinwusi tried repeatedly to get city contracts after Kilpatrick became mayor in 2002. The work dried up until he complained to his tailor, Southfield haberdasher Larry Alebiosu, owner of Fashion International.
Alebiosu also made suits for Kilpatrick.
“Well, the mayor has some suits here, maybe you could pay for the suits on layaway,” the tailor told Akinwusi.
Akinwusi paid $4,800 for the suits — and his dry spell ended, the prosecutor said.
Soon after, an executive at one of Bobby Ferguson’s companies visited Akinwusi to talk about a $7 million project to build the new Heilman Recreation Center.
There was a demand.
Ferguson wanted 36 percent of the deal.
“If I didn’t pay Bobby, the job would not go,” Akinwusi testified.
A suburban sewer collapse in 2006 triggered another chapter in the Kilpatrick Enterprise, according a federal prosecutor.
The Sterling Heights disaster, which closed 15 Mile, needed a quick response.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said the response included a scheme to get millions to Ferguson.
“‘No deal without me’ kicked in again,” he said, referring to a snippet of a Ferguson text message that he said was a well-worn mantra.
A deal to get Inland Waters money to repair the collapse was held, Bullotta said, until Inland included Ferguson in that and other work.
“I am gonna hold the Amendment until they pay Bobby,” Kilpatrick allegedly told former mayoral aide Derrick Miller.
Ultimately, Inland met Ferguson’s demand and a multi-million dollar amendment to an Inland contract went through, with the mayor’s support.
It was, Bullotta said, “another extortion special by Kilpatrick Inc.”
Kwame Kilpatrick extorted Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave by holding up the contractor’s $50 million sewer deal, a federal prosecutor reminded jurors Monday.
Kilpatrick was holding up the deal after taking office in 2002, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said during closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial.
So Soave scheduled a meeting with Kilpatrick.
“(Soave) had employees that were waiting to start, he said he was going to lose millions of dollars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta told jurors. “Detroiters were going to lose their jobs.
“So he said to the mayor ‘what’s the holdup?’ And Mayor Kilpatrick didn’t say ‘what holdup?’”
Kilpatrick told Soave he had the wrong subcontractor, the prosecutor told jurors.
The mayor’s pal, Bobby Ferguson, was the right minority subcontractor, Kilpatrick allegedly told Soave.
So Soave dumped his minority subcontractor and hired Ferguson.
Soave’s contract moved forward after adding Ferguson.
Detroit water and sewer ratepayers paid $1.6 million more on two water department projects because former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick worked to get Bobby Ferguson’s companies work on both both projects.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said the massive projects were slated to go to teams that did not include Ferguson until the water department adopted a controversial evaluation method.
That change prompted one of the two contracts to include Ferguson.
Bullotta said that wasn’t enough: “They wanted both.”
So the mayor, Bullotta said, ordered a city department to revoke the certification that allowed a company to receive extra credit for being based in Detroit.
A city administrator balked but was told by his boss, “The mayor wants it done.”
That revocation then brought both of Ferguson’s team into the money, even though each was not the low bidder.
Contractor Bobby Ferguson concocted “totally bogus” invoices to cover a $25,000 extortion payment from a Detroit company, a federal prosecutor said during closing arguments Monday.
Ferguson created an invoice after demanding cash from a contractor. The invoice was from Johnson Consulting, a company owned by his wife.
Except on the bogus invoice, the firm’s name was misspelled as “Johnson Consulants.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta showed jurors the “phony” invoice during closing arguments.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this document here — that’s literally the scene of the crime of the extortion,” Bullotta said.
An assistant U.S. attorney wove testimony and texts together this afternoon in an attempt to prove Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick worked together to steer contacts.
In 2002, in Kilpatrick’s first year as mayor, Lakeshore Engineering won a $10 million sewer contract. Thomas
Hardiman, a Lakeshore exec, told jurors that Ferguson showed up at his home and said he wanted 25 percent of the deal.
Hardiman, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said, testified that he balked, telling Ferguson he already had a team ready to do the work and didn’t need Ferguson Enterprises.
“It’s still gotta go by the mayor’s desk,” Hardiman quoted Ferguson as saying.
Lakeshore then offered Ferguson 10 percent, and he refused, Bullotta said.
Then, he showed text messages from that time. First, Ferguson asks Kilpatrick: “You haven’t released that contract yet.”
Kilpatrick’s reply: “Right. They know I’m holding it.”
Ferguson: “I need you to hold it for a long time.”
“He not only held it, he canceled it,” Bullotta said.
Kwame Kilpatrick and his alleged criminal racket targeted the Detroit Water and Sewerage department early on, a prosecutor said Monday.
The department had a $1 billion budget and Kilpatrick wanted a piece — a large piece, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said.
“How did Kilpatrick Inc. get a piece of the contracts?” Bullotta asked jurors.
He flashed a text message from Bobby Ferguson to the mayor.
“No deal without me,” the text read.
“And it worked,” Bullotta said. “Boy, did it work.”
Kilpatrick is projecting an air of boredom inside federal court while the prosecutor delivers a closing argument.
He is leaning back in his chair, resting his chin in his right hand.
In all, Ferguson landed crooked city deals totaling $83.8 million during Kilpatrick’s tenure.
“Bobby Ferguson was the $83.8 million man,” the prosecutor said.
Emma Bell, Kwame Kilpatricks’s fundraiser, had to meet Kilpatrick solely to give him cash, an assistant U.S. Attorney said, as part of her deal to kick back a portion of the money she raised for him.
Bell, who considered Kilpatrick a son and whose testimony was among the most gripping during the trial, cashed a check on the same day she came to the former mayor’s office at City Hall to give him cash.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said Bell, who didn’t even drive, had to meet Kilpatrick in person because she had to hand him cash.
Bullotta showed text messages showing Bell meeting with the mayor on that day.
Kwame Kilpatrick had access to a “constant flow of cash” — $841,000 beyond his salary — thanks to bribes and kickbacks paid by flunkies and contractors, a prosecutor said Monday.
“It raises the question: where did it come from?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked jurors.
Then, he flashed photos of Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell, ex-Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado, former mayoral aide Derrick Miller and homeless shelter operator Jon Rutherford.
All were forced to give cash kickbacks to Kilpatrick, the prosecutor said.
Next, jurors were shown a photo of contractor Bobby Ferguson, who the feds say received millions in contracts steered to him by the mayor.
“There is no mystery why Kwame Kilpatrick went above and beyond the call of duty, way out of his way to hold up contracts and cancel contracts,” Bullotta said. “Bobby Ferguson had to get on them. There’s a reason for that. Bobby Ferguson was sharing the spoils, the profits of Kilpatrick Inc.”
Kwame Kilpatrick stole money from a $500,000 state grant, money that was steered to his wife and pal Bobby Ferguson, a prosecutor said Monday during closing arguments.
“The state arts grant money isn’t the only money Kwame Kilpatrick stole,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta told jurors.
He misspent more than $100,000 in money donated to his nonprofit group, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Kilpatrick treated the nonprofit group like a personal piggy bank, prosecutors alleged.
He bought a Cadillac, yoga lessons, golf clubs, paid for summer camp for his kids and took a luxury Colorado vacation with mistress Christine Beatty, the prosecutor reminded jurors.
Kilpatrick also illegally spent money on his mayoral campaign, the prosecutor said.
“Kwame Kilpatrick certainly knew better,” Bullotta said.
Bullotta played a video clip from a mayoral debate during which Kilpatrick said: “We didn’t use one penny, one penny from the Civic Fund in this campaign because it’s not allowed by law,” Kilpatrick said during the debate video.
“He was right,” Bullotta told jurors.
When the Civic Fund’s cash drooped, Ferguson contributed $75,000, Bullotta said.
Bobby Ferguson “made up” paperwork to cover up his use of thousands of state dollars to refurbish his offices, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said this afternoon.
Bringing up perhaps one of the most damning pieces of physical evidence, Bullotta showed two invoices side-by-side.
One showed how a company called Airtec was hired by Ferguson’s construction company to install doors. But the other invoice, which Ferguson sent to the state to support how his charity spent $250,000 from a state grant, said Airtec did the work for Detroit Three Dimensional Community Development Corp.
It was a lie, Bullotta said.
Ferguson sent it, he said, “to cover his tracks.”
Detroit 3-D then sent $100,000 to a nonprofit run by Carlita Kilpatrick, Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife.
Kwame Kilpatrick, then a leader in the state house, secured the grant, along with another for a nonprofit run by his church, which also hired his wife.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta said Kwame Kilpatrick’s goal as mayor was personal to get money for himself.
Despite a $170,000 salary, a free mansion, free cars, bodyguards and staff, Bullotta said Kilpatrick “wanted to help himself more than the people he was elected to serve.”
“He took an oath to the citizens of Detroit, and he shattered that oath,” Bullotta said.
A federal prosecutor launched his closing argument by flashing a text message from contractor Bobby Ferguson to his pal, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
“No deal without me,” read the text message.
“That tells you almost everything you need to know about this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta told jurors. “If you wanted a city contract, you had to pay.”
“Our democracy depends on our elected officials representing us and our needs and not coming into office and turning it into a personal business,” Bullotta continued. “What Kwame Kilpatrick did in partnership with Bobby Ferguson and Bernard Kilpatrick is they turned the mayor’s office into Kilpatrick Incorporated, a private, profit machine.”
Kwame Kilpatrick, dressed in a brown suit and purple socks, listened intently, resting his chin on his left hand.
Kilpatrick’s alleged racketeering conspiracy was fueled by greed, the prosecutor said.
Kilpatrick wasn’t satisfied with free rent, free cars and a large team of bodyguards.
Bullotta reminded jurors that Kwame Kilpatrick spent almost $841,000 more than he earned as mayor.
“That’s just the money that hit his banks, the money that we found,” Bullotta said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta appeared loose at noon Monday as federal court buzzed with anticipation of the federal prosecutor delivering closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial.
Bullotta greeted several FBI agents in the hallway outside U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds’s courtroom on the eighth floor of federal court.
The agents wished him luck and Bullotta thanked them for their work on the years-long City Hall corruption probe, which has netted two dozen convictions, including former City Councilwoman Monica Conyers.
There is a larger crowd than usual watching the trial and in an overflow courtroom set up with a video feed. The gallery includes includes U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III and Bullotta’s sister and father.
Defendant Bobby Ferguson also appeared at ease returning from lunch Monday. He was spotted waiting in line to enter court, sucking on a toothpick.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick offered fashion tips on Twitter on the eve of closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial.
@tobysobo LOL! Its not about your color, its about your swag. Lots of white cats got it, and lots of black cats don’t. The “cool” is within.
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 10, 2013
@tobysobo Its not a “pimp hat”.That is racist and disrespectful.If you choose to speak like that, speak with someone else.
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 10, 2013
Jurors are not expected to start deliberating the fate of Kwame Kilpatrick & Co. until Thursday.
That’s because closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial, meanwhile, are being staggered over three days, according to a newly released trial schedule.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is expected to deliver his closing argument after lunch today. His argument is expected to last two-and-a-half hours.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer James C. Thomas is scheduled for Tuesday morning followed by Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer John Shea.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer Gerald Evelyn will deliver a closing argument Thursday followed by the government’s rebuttal and jury deliberations.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds thanked jurors Monday for sticking through a five-month trial and remaining attentive amid a high-profile, stressful case.
The judge’s comments came minutes before Edmunds started reviewing jury instructions in the City Hall corruption trial.
“You have been an extraordinary jury,” the judge said. “The fact that were we are in February, all of you started in September and we haven’t lost a day from any one of you calling in sick…or with logistical problems.
“You all have been so conscientious, so attentive through a very long time with some difficult weather and driving. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the hard work you have put in. It’s just incredible when I tell people I still have 16 jurors and they haven’t missed a day. No one can even believe it.”
Early on, two jurors were excused from the case, including one who repeatedly fell asleep.
There are 12 jurors and four alternates.
Kwame Kilpatrick isn’t the only author involved in the City Hall corruption trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta, who published the fictional thriller “Hard Core” two years ago, will tackle the nonfiction variety today while delivering a closing argument in the City Hall corruption trial.
From Bullotta’s dust jacket:
After graduating magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center in 1992, R. Michael Bullotta began his law career as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, where he was quickly assigned to the Hardcore Gang Division, an elite unit of prosecutors who handled exclusively gang-related homicides.
In 1997, he was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles by then Attorney General Janet Reno. As a federal prosecutor in L.A., he prosecuted domestic and international drug trafficking cartels. Currently, he lives in Michigan and works in the Detroit United States Attorney’s Office, where he prosecutes public corruption cases and writes screenplays.
We’ll see which author wins when the jury returns, but Kilpatrick has a huge lead in book rankings.
Kilpatrick’s book is ranked #367,526 on Amazon.
“Hard Core”: #2,337,837.
If it’s any consolation for the feds, Kilpatrick’s book is kaput.
”I believe the publishing company to be out of business, and that the book is no longer being sold,” Kilpatrick wrote in an email to his parole agent last month.