A sick juror brought a premature end to closing arguments Tuesday in the City Hall corruption trial.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer John Shea was interrupted Tuesday afternoon after a juror got sick and had to leave the courtroom.
Earlier Tuesday, Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer delivered a two-hour-long closing argument in front of a packed courtroom, which included the former Detroit mayor’s wife, mother, sister and three sons.
Shea will reboot his closing argument at 9 a.m. Thursday in federal court, followed by Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer.
Prosecutors will offer a rebuttal before jurors start deliberations.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer reacted angrily to a question Tuesday about whether the former Detroit mayor’s wife and children were used as sympathetic props in front of the jury during closing arguments.
“That’s bull—-,” attorney James C. Thomas told The News outside federal court.
Kilpatrick’s wife Carlita and their three sons made their first appearance Tuesday at the City Hall corruption trial.
“They wanted to support their dad,” Thomas said. “That’s important.”
A juror in the Kwame Kilpatrick trial fell ill Tuesday, interrupting closing arguments in the City Hall corruption case.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds halted the trial at 1:35 p.m., about 10 minutes into the closing argument from Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer.
Closing arguments will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday in federal court.
Edmunds earlier warned lawyers that three or four jurors were feeling ill.
After the break, Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson joked in court with the ex-mayor’s wife Carlita Kilpatrick, who sat in the second row.
After jurors left the courtroom, the trio started laughing and someone said something funny, prompting Kwame Kilpatrick and Ferguson to slap hands and cackle.
The government sees corruption behind every move Bernard Kilpatrick made, the political consultant’s lawyer told jurors Tuesday.
Attorney John Shea chided government investigators while launching a closing argument in the City Hall corruption trial.
It was not illegal for Bernard Kilpatrick to talk to his son, the former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, about city contracts and clients, Shea told jurors.
“This case is about a government that sees what it wants to see and resolves all contradictions of him in favor of a poisoned view,” Shea said. “And not surprisingly, therefore, finds corruption behind what seems to be his every statement and ignores evidence of legitimacy in his personal relationships, his business relationships and wants you to ignore those as well.
“Bernard Kilpatrick brought a package of experience and connections to his job that made him valuable to people.”
Shea tried to humanize Bernard Kilpatrick, telling jurors he is a 71-year-old father of three and former politician.
“Bernard Kilpatrick had what it took to be a successful consultant,” Shea said. “He had the last name Kilpatrick and was related by blood to the mayor. There is nothing wrong with him utilizing that accidental benefit.”
Prosecutors labeled Bernard Kilpatrick an extorter who shook down city contractors, filed phony tax returns and participated in a criminal racket headed by his son.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s consulting firm Maestro Associates, created when his son took office as Detroit’s mayor in 2002, generated millions in income until Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008.
Between 2002 and 2008, more than $2.23 million was deposited into Maestro Associates’ bank accounts, an IRS agent testified today.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s ex-wife, former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and their grandchildren did not return to federal court to hear the closing argument.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife Carlita, however, returned to listen to Shea’s closing argument.
Kwame Kilpatrick, his mother and children were mum while leaving court and blocking traffic today along Lafayette in downtown Detroit.
The family — making their first appearance at the five-month-old City Hall corruption trial — piled into separate vehicles after Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer delivered a closing argument.
Former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and her grandchildren climbed into a dark Lincoln MKT that blocked both lanes of traffic along Lafayette in front of the courthouse.
Kwame Kilpatrick, meanwhile, ignored reporters and photographers before getting into a Ford SUV.
The case against Kwame Kilpatrick is built upon unreliable witnesses, his attorney said this morning, and he called on jurors to acquit him on all charges.
“I’m going to ask you for a verdict, not guilty on all counts,” James C. Thomas said as he finished his two-hour closing arguments. “Let Mr. Kilpatrick to go back home to his wife and kids.”
His wife Carlita, his three sons, his mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and two sisters were on hand to offer support to the former mayor, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of charges he ran City Hall like a criminal enterprise.
Thomas said those charges, however, rely on the questionable testimony of three players, each of whom is flawed. He asked jurors to question whether they would trust Emma Bell, the fundraiser, Derrick Miller, a former top aide, or Karl Kado, a Cobo Center contractor who battled with memory lapses.
He particularly shredded Miller, who faces prison time for a bribery conviction tied to the investigation.
Thomas told jurors to consider what they’d do if Miller came to their door, alerted them to an accident involving a family member and offered to watch their home when they left.
“Would you hesitate, having heard him? Would you hesitate?” Thomas asked. Miller is “not a trustworthy guy, what’s in it for me. I’m out there for myself. Derrick Miller for Derrick Miller.
He called Kado “demented” and was derisive of Bell, whom claimed she kicked back 50 percent of all money she raised for Kilpatrick. Thomas suggested she never gave the former mayor a penny, instead hoarding the cash for frequent jaunts to area casinos.
After lunch, Bernard Kilkpatrick’s attorney, John Shea, will give his closing argument. Bobby Ferguson’s attorney, Gerald Evelyn, will present his argument Thursday morning. A federal prosecutor will then be allowed to offer a rebuttal.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer ridiculed testimony from an alleged bagman who said he delivered $90,000 in kickbacks to the Detroit mayor.
Calling the testimony “magical,” lawyer James C. Thomas said there was no evidence Mahlon Clift flew into Detroit to get the money from Bobby Ferguson or flew to Chicago, Texas and Detroit to deliver the money.
“He magically came into Detroit and magically stayed at the Atheneum (Suite Hotel),” Thomas told jurors. “There is magically no record of him staying there. He testified he took it to the airport, although he doesn’t have a ticket to show us.
“He testified he traveled to Chicago and hid the money in a vacuum cleaner. He said he took $50,000 to Texas and $40,000 back to Detroit. If Bobby Ferguson wanted to give (Kilpatrick) money, he could have called Mr. Kilpatrick on the phone and say come over and get it. Or send him a text message telling him to come over and get it. But we don’t have a text or a phone conversation.
“We have Mahlon Clift’s testimony. And I suggest it is incredible.”
Thomas attacked the government for having an agent reenact going Clift through airport security with $90,000 strapped to his body.
Clift testified he had the money hidden in his shorts and pockets of his cargo pants.
The FBI agent who conducted the test, however, hid the money along his waist, Thomas told jurors.
“It looked like he was strapped with a bomb, or money around his waist,” Thomas said.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s attorney conceded that some spending by the former mayor’s charity were not defensible, yet he said Kilpatrick paid back other expenses.
James C. Thomas said there were only three questionable expenses paid for by the Kilpatrick Civic Fund: yoga lessons, a golf practice session and anti-surveillance equipment.
“The defendable one,” Thomas said, was the so-called “spy equipment,” which he said is still used by the Detroit police. Earlier in the trial, a man who ran a spy store in Oakland County said he sold the equipment to Kilpatrick to detect listening devices.
Thomas’ concession comes after he had long-argued the yoga lessons were part of efforts to help City Hall employees.
Other expenses were reimbursed by the former mayor in April 2009, when he wrote a $13,027 check to the Civic Fund.
“What this shows that Mr. Kilpatrick became aware before the end of the tax year that … they should be paid back,” Thomas said.
Prosecutors have alleged that Kilpatrick tapped the civic fund for more than $150,000 in political and personal expenses that weren’t allowable under tax law. Thomas said little about the other expenses except to say they were allowable.
Kwame Kilpatrick has remained impassive during his lawyer’s two-hour closing argument.
He has listened intently and appeared stoic throughout while defense lawyer James C. Thomas attacked the government’s case.
His wife Carlita, however, joked and smiled during an 11 a.m. break.
Her husband’s friend and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson sat next to Carlita Kilpatrick during the break. Both laughed and beamed big smiles while talking privately.
The government’s theory that Kwame Kilpatrick pocketed almost $841,000 in bribes and kickbacks is flawed, the former mayor’s lawyer said Tuesday.
Defense lawyer James C. Thomas tried to explain why Kilpatrick had that much money in cash beyond his mayoral salary.
Kilpatrick and his wife received large cash gifts, which were not taxable, and hoarded money before he became mayor in 2002, Thomas told jurors.
The money wasn’t bribes and kickbacks from contractor Bobby Ferguson and others, Thomas suggested.
“(Prosecutors) ignored the income he and his wife were generating before 2002,” Thomas told jurors during closing arguments. “It’s a flaw.”
Thomas pointed to testimony from former Detroit Councilwoman Sharon McPhail and former Kilpatrick appointee Kizzi Montgomery. They said city employees gave Kilpatrick cash gifts twice a year, on his birthday and at Christmas.
McPhail said she gave $1,000 to Kilpatrick.
There were 100 appointees, 20 directors and 10 cabinet members — all of whom gave Kilpatrick cash twice a year, Thomas said.
“When the government…tells you he owes taxes because of cash he was depositing into his account, the government completely ignored gifts,” Thomas said. “Completely ignored gifts. Completely ignored loans. You can’t ignore that.”
Kwame Kilpatrick did not treat his nonprofit group like a personal piggy bank because other people approved personal expenses, his lawyer told jurors Tuesday.
“The Civic Fund was run by (Kilpatrick mistress) Christine Beatty, and Derrick Miller and others,” Thomas said.
Kilpatrick is charged with mail and wire fraud relating to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
That’s because the U.S. mail was used to pay for expenses such as resort trips out of state and solicitation letters were mailed and faxed to donors.
Thomas said the expenses, totaling almost $14,000, were a small percentage of the $1.7 million raised by the nonprofit group.
“For a person who didn’t take a salary, who…worked extremely hard but was not engaged in the acceptance or receipt of money,” Thomas said.
Kwame Kilpatrick took political money and suits from a former homeless shelter operator, the former mayor’s attorney said this morning, but no crime took place because Jon Rutherford didn’t expect anything in return.
Rutherford, who is headed to prison on tax charges related to the corruption investigation, poured money into Kilpatrick’s campaign coffers and also said he gave him $10,000 for a trip to the Middle East.
But James C. Thomas said Rutherford testified he didn’t expect the mayor to do anything for him.
“Where’s the crime?” Thomas asked.
Rutherford, however, did say he wanted the mayor’s help to facilitate a deal to put a casino on the riverfront. The casino never materialized and Thomas said Rutherford “had no chance of getting a casino license.”
In October, Rutherford said he gave more than $500,000 to Kilpatrick and his father in hopes of winning support for his casino proposal.
“Were you paying this for something in return?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked then.
“I guess,” Rutherford said. “I wanted something in the end … yup.”
Former Kwame Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller, the government’s star witness, repeatedly lied on the witness stand, a lawyer said Tuesday.
“He wanted to make sure I didn’t catch him in a lie, but we caught him in a lot of lies,” Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas told jurors.
Miller was the third government witness attacked by Thomas during closing arguments. He also tried to cast doubt on former Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado and Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell.
Miller struck a plea deal to testify against Kilpatrick.
Miller created phony records that were submitted to a federal grand jury and set up a shell corporation to hide payments from a corrupt pension fund deal, Thomas told jurors.
“You have the right to judge a man’s credibility,” Thomas said. “And judge what he’s done in the past.”
Miller is awaiting sentencing on tax and bribery charges.
Miller told jurors he delivered a $10,000 bribe to Kilpatrick inside the Asian Village bathroom — an allegation Thomas tried to shred.
It makes no sense that Miller collected the money from Asian Village owner Andrew Park and then called Kilpatrick in fall 2007 to come to the Detroit restaurant and pocket the cash, Thomas said.
“Come on, are you kidding me?” Thomas told jurors. “It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t hold water, it didn’t happen. He’s the guy who can set other people up to take the fall.”
Thomas said Kado, who said he gave Kilpatrick and his father thousands of dollars to keep or expand his contracts at Cobo Center, had told the government he was having trouble recalling events. Yet prosecutors still had him testify, Thomas said.
At one point in his testimony, he said he knew he paid a bribe because there was 8 inches of snow on the ground. Turns out that was in August, and Thomas said there hasn’t been 8 inches of snow on the ground in Michigan in August since the Ice Age.
“I know Karl Kado’s old but he’s not that old,” Thomas said. “This man is a confused person.”
From the time prosecutors first reached out to Kado in 2005 and told him he was under investigation until the trial, he met with prosecutors and agents 12 times and had 50 phone calls.
Thomas claimed the “sole reason” there were so many conversations was to “mold the testimony you heard.”
Emma Bell, the former Kwame Kilpatrick fundraiser, never gave the former mayor kickbacks and, instead, blew the cash gambling at Detroit casinos, according to attorney James C. Thomas.
Kilpatrick’s lawyer continued attacking Bell’s credibility and tears she shed on the witness stand last year while telling jurors she delivered kickbacks to the Detroit mayor stuffed in her bra.
“She could cry a tear and then freeze me into a block of ice with a stare,” Thomas told jurors. “She could bully people, sweet talk them and then beat them up. She is not a person that is credible.”
Three of the most high-profile witnesses in the case against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were “bought and paid for” and are not reliable, Kilpatrick’s attorney said this morning.
James C. Thomas told jurors that Emma Bell, the mayor’s former fundraiser, Derrick Miller, his former top aide, and Karl Kado, a Cobo Center contractor, all got in trouble and needed to offer testimony against Kilpatrick.
Bell testified that she had to kick back 50 percent of whatever she raised to Kilpatrick, making cash payments pulled from her bra to him during clandestine meetings.
But Thomas said she had substantial tax problems and turned on the mayor in hopes of cutting down on prison time. And, he said, she shed a “crocodile tear” on the witness stand, an attempt for sympathy.
He also attacked Miller, who pleaded guilty to tax and bribery charges, and Kado, who admitted paying Kilpatrick and others.
“These are witnesses who got in trouble on their own, totally independent of Kwame Kilpatrick,” he said.
They agreed to help the government, he said, out of the “hope of freedom and the hope they can trade their troubles for Mr. Kilpatrick.”
One of Kwame Kilpatrick’s twin sons, who traveled from Texas to show support for his father during closing arguments, fell asleep in front of the jury today.
One of the twins appeared to fall asleep for about a minute while lawyer Jim Thomas addressed the jury.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer cited a “Saturday Night Live” skit to belittle the government’s interpretation of the former Detroit mayor’s text messages.
Lawyer Jim Thomas said prosecutors read too much into Kilpatrick’s texts with contractor Bobby Ferguson.
In some of the texts, which prosecutors said showed Kilpatrick and Ferguson schemed to steer city contracts, the former mayor merely texted the word “Cool!”
The word meant nothing, Thomas told jurors.
The lawyer then referred to former Saturday Night Live actor Rob Schneider and the famous skit about making copies.
“He could say dude 50 different ways,” Thomas said. “We don’t get the flavor of that with these text messages.”
A dead federal judge made a cameo in Kwame Kilpatrick’s closing argument, vouching for the former Detroit mayor’s work helping oversee the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
Defense lawyer James C. Thomas showed jurors a federal court filing from the late U.S. District Judge John Feikens praising Kilpatrick.
“If you have any questions about Mr. Kilpatrick’s administration…you’ve got to see what Judge Feikens said,” Thomas told jurors.
Feikens, who died in May 2011, had broad oversight of the water department.
In the earlier court filing, Feikens praised Kilpatrick for hiring Victor Mercado to run the water department. Mercado was charged alongside Kilpatrick but struck a plea deal with prosecutors last fall.
“Under Kilpatrick’s leadership, DWSD is now making steady progress toward long-term compliance and the end of this court’s oversight,” Feikens wrote in the court filing shown to jurors today.
The Detroit contractors who claimed former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick forced them to hire Bobby Ferguson out of fear of losing contracts weren’t victims at all, attorney James C. Thomas said.
Thomas said the top execs of Lakeshore Engineering, who told jurors how they felt Ferguson cost them $15 million in contracts, were wrong to complain after they saw their city work go from $8 million a year to more than $157 million during the Kilpatrick administration.
When Lakeshore lost two contracts in 2002, which the government claims was one of the initial acts of extortion as part of the so-called Kilpatrick Enterprise, they were “not qualified,” Thomas said, and Ferguson was. And he had lower costs.
Faced with such an equation, Thomas asked, “What would you do in the mayor’s position?” He called it “responsible government.”
But he pointed his most pointed comments at Avinash Rachmale and Thomas Hardiman of Lakeshore, which now is a multi-billion company with thousands of employees around the world.
“These are victims? They come in here 10 years after the fact and say they lost money,” Thomas said.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer blasted the government’s theory that contractors paid kickbacks and bribes to the former Detroit mayor because they feared losing city contracts.
Defense lawyer Jim Thomas criticized the so-called “climate of fear” that allegedly existed during Kilpatrick’s tenure.
Thomas singled out Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave as someone so rich and powerful that he could not be extorted.
Soave testified he gave Kilpatrick and his associates free private jet flights worth almost $400,000.
Soave also said he took Kilpatrick and mistress Christine Beatty on a lavish New York City shopping spree and bought a $6,000 Cartier watch for the mayor’s father.
“A guy worth $2.5 billion comes in and says he had a fear of losing money,” Thomas told jurors. “One of the biggest contractors in the city. That just, well, doesn’t make sense to me.”
Thomas said the government has taken “otherwise innocent” actions — talking with friends, deciding to award a contract to a friend — and considered them criminal. But he said Kilpatrick’s intentions were higher and pointed to the work contractor Bobby Ferguson did.
“Bobby Ferguson works out there in the cold .. and digs up dirt,” Thomas said.
He employed people, many of them Detroiters, in contrast to some contractors who Thomas suggested were Detroit-based in name only.
One of those companies, DLZ, had its certification as a Detroit-based company pulled by Kilpatrick’s administration, a move that led to Ferguson getting in on two large water department contracts.
It’s an attempt to suggest that Kilpatrick was working to help people, even if they included Ferguson. Prosecutors have accused the two of conspiring to personally profit from $84 million in city contracts that Ferguson’s companies won during the former mayor’s tenure.
“There is a higher purpose than awarding a contract; there’s a higher purpose than just saving money,” Thomas said.
It might have been unethical for Kwame Kilpatrick to steer a $500,000 state grant to his wife’s group and one headed by Bobby Ferguson, but it wasn’t illegal, the former mayor’s lawyer said today.
“There was no crime here,” lawyer James C. Thomas said as Carlita Kilpatrick sat in the courtroom, supporting her husband.
Thomas launched his closing argument by addressing the use of a state arts grant awarded when Kilpatrick was a state lawmaker.
Prosecutors said the money was misspent. Carlita Kilpatrick paid herself $91,000 and Ferguson spent some of the money renovating his Detroit offices.
Kwame Kilpatrick said a silent prayer today as jurors entered the courtroom to hear his lawyer deliver a closing argument in the City Hall corruption trial.
Kilpatrick was flanked by his wife, mother, sister and three sons, who made their first appearance during the trial. Defense lawyer James C. Thomas made a point of noting their appearance for jurors while starting his closing argument.
“My client wanted me to talk about all the good things he’s done in his office,” Thomas said at the start of his speech.
“It was remarkable that witnesses would come in to testify and when cross examination was done, it was a completely different story,” Thomas told jurors.
He bemoaned the media coverage, saying Kilpatrick has been demonized.
“My client came in with a lot of baggage,” Thomas said. “Kwame Kilpatrick is a human being. He’s a father, he’s a son, he’s a man.”
Thomas attacked the testimony of witnesses who called Kilpatrick a crook who pocketed payoffs.
“We have seen witnesses who were argumentative, witnesses who sometimes were pointing fingers,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen witnesses who didn’t answer the question and tried to spin it sideways. These are things you should look for to determine if that person was free and open.”
Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife, three children and mother arrived at federal court today to show support for the former Detroit mayor, their first appearance at the City Hall corruption trial.
Kilpatrick draped his arms around his twin sons while waiting to go through security at federal court in downtown Detroit.
He was flanked by his wife, Carlita (dressed in a zebra-pattern winter coat), sister Ayanna Kilpatrick Ferguson, and mother, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
The former Detroit mayor’s father Bernard, of course, has been at court everyday — as a defendant and member of Kilpatrick’s alleged criminal enterprise.
The show of force comes as Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer James C. Thomas is set to deliver a closing argument.
There were lots of smiles and hugs when the group arrived outside of U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds’s courtroom and saw Bernard Kilpatrick.
The family sat in the second row behind the defense table. Defendant Bobby Ferguson waved at Carlita Kilpatrick, who waved back at the Detroit contractor.