Defense lawyers delivered emotional closing arguments today, setting the stage for jury deliberations in the City Hall corruption trial.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Friday in federal court when Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow gets a chance to rebut closing arguments. Jurors are expected to start deliberations by 1 p.m.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer capped an emotional, two-hour-long closing argument on the verge of tears, his voice cracking while quoting Martin Luther King Jr.
Attorney Gerald Evelyn invoked the Civil Rights movement and King while urging jurors to acquit Ferguson in the City Hall corruption trial. The same tactic was used during Ferguson”s bid-rigging trial last summer, which ended in a hung jury.
A black female juror appeared to become emotional today when Evelyn quoted King.
The King references came late in a long, thundering argument during which Evelyn tried to undercut testimony from a string of witnesses who said they were extorted by Ferguson and his friend, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
“The government says (Ferguson) belonged to a criminal organization that never really existed,” Evelyn told jurors.
Amid the pressure of a five-month-long trial and upcoming deliberations, Evelyn urged jurors to find comfort in King’s writings.
Specifically, King’s book “Strength to Love.”
“One of those sermons reminded us that ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience…” Evelyn said despite his voice starting to crack, “but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’”
Earlier, Evelyn confronted Ferguson’s reputation for toughness, which includes a conviction for pistol-whipping a man.
“He’s a tough-minded businessman who has been really steeled by his experiences,” Evelyn told jurors. “He learned the hard knocks the hard way. He has fought and struggled and succeeded in the construction industry.”
Here, Evelyn turned sarcastic.
“Not like the ‘victims’ in this case,” the lawyer said, referring to city contractors who allegedly were extorted, namely Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave (who lives in this mansion).
Ferguson owned a real construction company, employed real people and owned real equipment and wasn’t a minority front used by white contractors to capitalize on racial preferences in the city contracting process, Evelyn said.
“For me, it’s emotional, making money off the Civil Rights movement,” Evelyn told jurors.
“(Ferguson) is also a man who cares about others,” Evelyn continued. “People like him in this community.”
Ferguson was charitable and volunteered time and equipment for the anti-blight campaign Motor City Makeover, Evelyn said.
“That saved millions of dollars,” Evelyn said.
Evelyn tried countering allegations that Ferguson pocketed money from city contracts for doing no work.
“Does he look like a no-work person?” Evelyn asked jurors while pointing at the hulking, balding and bearded Ferguson.
The feds can’t prove Bobby Ferguson gave Kwame Kilpatrick any illegal payoffs or kickbacks, the contractor’s lawyer said today during a passionate closing argument that mocked prosecutors.
Attorney Gerald Evelyn railed against prosecutors for showing jurors photos of Ferguson’s safes stuffed with cash, and suggesting the money was given to Kilpatrick.
“There is nothing that connects this money that Mr. Ferguson legally earned and worked hard for and paid taxes on,” Evelyn told jurors during closing arguments.
“They showed you money seized in 2009 and 2010 — that means before then he was giving that money to (Kilpatrick). There is no proof and that is completely illogical.
“Why is it in his safe if he’s giving it to (Kilpatrick)?” Evelyn added.
“‘Oh, we can’t track it,’” Evelyn said, using a mocking voice to imitate the government.
“Yes you can!” he shouted. “They should show to the penny how much he supposedly gave to Mr. Kilpatrick to show what’s missing.
“Ain’t nothin’ missing,” Evelyn said.
“They’re trying to pull the wool over your eyes,” Evelyn said, his voice rising to a shout. “Don’t let it happen!”
A juror in Bobby Ferguson’s $12 million bid-rigging case that ended in a mistrial last summer weighed in today on the City Hall corruption trial.
Juror Theresa Burchett-Sparks posted the following Facebook comment about closing arguments today.
“Hope their (sic) isn’t a juror like the juror in the Bobby Ferguson trial – then they all walk…So unfair and a waste of time for all people involved. Just sayin…they need to change that.”
Burchett-Sparks sat on the jury that deadlocked last summer in Ferguson’s bid-rigging trial in federal court.
After the mistrial, jurors told The News they had voted to convict Ferguson on four counts before adjourning for the weekend. When they returned, they were deadlocked 10-1 on conviction.
Jurors identified the holdout as the lone black female juror.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson, however, met with jurors privately and said they described a swirl of votes inside the jury room.
“The court learned that the votes on some counts as to some defendants favored conviction, the votes on other counts as to other defendants favored acquittal, and still other counts and defendants divided the jury nearly evenly,” the judge wrote in an order filed last year.
In a Facebook post last summer, Burchett-Sparks provided insight into deliberations.
“I can tell you 1st hand that the votes were 10 to 1 on almost all counts and I’m so happy this is going to trial again … hope they pay for what they have done to Detroit …,” Burchett-Sparks wrote June 26.
Ferguson is set to be retried on the bid-rigging charges in April.
It makes no sense that Kwame Kilpatrick could threaten one of the state’s richest and most powerful businessmen into hiring his pal, contractor Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer told jurors today.
Kilpatrick never told Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave to hire his pal Ferguson on a 2002 sewer deal, Ferguson’s lawyer Gerald Evelyn said during closing arguments.
Evelyn attacked Soave, calling him a multi-billionaire who was too tough and powerful to be extorted by Kilpatrick, who at the time was 31 years old and the new mayor of Detroit.
Soave testified in December that he hired Ferguson on a $50 million sewer deal because Kilpatrick was holding up the contract and told him he had hired the wrong subcontractor.
The right subcontractor was Ferguson, the mayor allegedly told Soave.
(Kilpatrick) is making demands on this multi-billionaire?” Evelyn told jurors. “Does that make any sense?”
Evelyn was trying to fight one of the key points of the government’s racketeering case: That businessmen feared they would lose valuable city contracts unless they paid bribes and kickbacks to Kilpatrick and Ferguson.
“He’s afraid?” Evelyn said, referring to Soave. “(Soave) could probably crush (Kilpatrick) financially.”
Soave, who sold his garbage-hauling company for $750 million and who has had contacts with known mob associates, was one of the most colorful witnesses to testify during the City Hall corruption trial.
He testified about giving Kilpatrick, mistress Christine Beatty and others $385,000 worth of free flights on his fleet of private jets.
He took Kilpatrick and Beatty on a lavish New York City shopping spree and bought Bernard Kilpatrick a $6,000 Cartier watch.
“You saw the kind of man Soave is,” Evelyn told jurors today. “He muted it a bit. But at one point he allegedly said Mr. Ferguson wanted to do a joint venture with him. He told Mr. Ferguson to go f— himself.
“That’s the real Tony Soave. That’s the guy. When pushed, that’s what you get out of Tony Soave. He’s not the kind of guy to get pushed around.
“He’s a strong guy; dealt with all kinds of people. If he’s confronted about something he doesn’t want to do, guess what you’re told?”
Bobby Ferguson was victimized by two contractors who squeezed him out of a $19 million taxpayer-funded sewer deal in 2002.
Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn pointed to the contract to counter the government’s portrait of Ferguson as a menacing racketeer and friend of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who got paid for no-show work.
Evelyn reminded jurors about Lakeshore Engineering Service winning a $19 million sewer contract in 2004.
The firm won the city contract, in part, because Ferguson was included on the project as a minority subcontractor.
Under that contract, Ferguson Enterprises was expected to do just over one-third of the work, with Lakeshore handling 38 percent and another company, Lanzo Construction, 19 percent. Lanzo was not headquartered in Detroit and had few minority employees.
After Lakeshore won the job, Lanzo’s Angelo D’Alessandro, who owned another company, DCG, decided he wanted DCG to perform much of the work that Ferguson’s excavating company was slated to do. Ultimately, D’Alessandro decided to pay Ferguson $900,000 to quit the job and do no work.
“(Ferguson’s) not asking to get out, they want him out,” Evelyn told jurors.
Gerald Evelyn continued to ridicule the government’s case today by attacking the credibility of a powerful Detroit contractor.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer ripped Lakeshore Engineering executive Avinash Rachmale, who testified last fall that he was extorted by Ferguson.
In October, Rachmale admitted that a city of Detroit inspector had an office at Lakeshore Engineering and had a company-paid cell phone.
Rachmale also admitted that his long-time friend, Dilip Patel, had an office at Lakeshore’s building and that Patel’s wife, Mena, was paid $2,500 a month by Rachmale’s real estate company.
But Rachmale denied that Patel was a Lakeshore employee and he said their friendship preceded Lakeshore’s business relationship with Detroit. Patel was an inspector who oversaw employees who did check up on some jobs done for the city by Lakeshore.
“Come on, be real,” Evelyn told jurors today. “That’s the height of a conflict of interest. He still can’t tell the truth.
“This is another example of a person who took an oath, sat in the (witness) chair and did not tell you the truth,” Evelyn added.
Prosecutors have tried to criminalize Bobby Ferguson’s friendship with Kwame Kilpatrick in hopes they’ll convince the duo of racketeering, a lawyer said today during closing arguments.
Attorney Gerald Evelyn tried to portray Ferguson as a mentor to other black contractors during the time his own business boomed under Kilpatrick’s tenure as mayor.
“What the government wants to do is…criminalize their relationship, his friendship with Mr. Kilpatrick” Evelyn told jurors during closing arguments. “They want to criminalize (Kilpatrick’s) relationship with his father.
“That’s what they need to do for you to be convinced there’s racketeering going on here,” Evelyn added.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer ridiculed the government for claiming the contractor showed his power early in Kwame Kilpatrick’s tenure as mayor by threatening a police officer.
Evelyn said Officer Michael Fountain’s story was implausible.
“He had the temerity to tell you he was an officer for 20-some years and this man,” Evelyn said, his voice rising as he pointed at Ferguson, “threatened his life, his wife’s life and children’s life to dismiss some misdemeanor tickets.
(Fountain) has a gun, he’s in court, which is filled with police officers, and he does it in front of two (Kilpatrick bodyguards)? Think about that. How plausible does that sound?”
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer railed against pretrial publicity that clamored for a guilty verdict against the Detroit contractor and his pal, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Attorney Gerald Evelyn launched his closing argument by saying his client has been judged by the public.
“This has been more challenging than any case in recent history,” Evelyn told jurors. “There have been more external influences than I can imagine. The amount of pretrial publicity has intensified during this trial. Built up over years.”
The publicity carries an imperative to convict Ferguson, Evelyn said.
“There is almost an institutional drumbeat that echoes from every corner and screams prejudgment,” Evelyn said.
Evelyn railed against the government and accused agents and prosecutors of pressuring witnesses.
“They’ve pressured people in a way that has caused them to testify, but more than that, the government and the media have demonized…Mr. Kilpatrick and, by extension, my client.
“This demonization has made Kwame Kilpatrick radioactive.”
Contractor Bobby Ferguson smiled alongside Kwame Kilpatrick today, and shook hands with the former Detroit mayor minutes before his lawyer delivered closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial.
He appeared loose and relaxed as his lawyer Gerald Evelyn prepared to convince jurors not to send the Detroit contractor to prison for 20 years. Ferguson’s wife Marilyn was in the second row of the courtroom.
Prosecutors allege Ferguson’s companies received almost $125 million in city revenue during pal Kilpatrick’s time as mayor.
In all, Ferguson and his firms pocketed almost $84 million in revenue from tainted taxpayer-funded deals that are included in the City Hall corruption indictment.
Bernard Kilpatrick is no saint, but he didn’t extort a handful of clients who were convicted in the City Hall corruption probe, his lawyer told jurors today.
He’s a victim, defense lawyer John Shea said near the end of a two-hour closing argument.
Bernard Kilpatrick was used by businessmen who wanted to capitalize on his knowledge of city government and ties to his son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the lawyer said.
Once they got paid, and ensnared in an FBI probe, those same businessmen turned on Bernard Kilpatrick, Shea said.
“It’s ludicrous,” Shea said. “This is ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ down the rabbit hole stuff. This is a guy who was looking at angles…but doing it legally…
“I am not trying to make him out to be a saint,” Shea added, turning to his 71-year-old client. “He’s an old basketball player who knows how to mix it up. I’m sure he could throw an elbow if he had to. But he is not guilty of these charges.
“You are not here to decide whether he is a saint,” Shea continued. “Canonization is not a part of your deliberations. You have to acquit him.”
Shea briefly addressed the two charges of filing false tax returns in 2004 and 2005.
Shea told jurors they cannot convict Kilpatrick on a 2004 charge because there’s no record that he ever signed his tax return.
While conceding Kilpatrick did not alert his accountants to $180,000 in 2005 income, Shea said the failure to disclose the income was not willful and therefore not punishable under criminal tax evasion laws.
It might have been unfair that Bernard Kilpatrick had unrestricted access to the mayor of Detroit. But it wasn’t illegal, the consultant’s lawyer told jurors today.
“Was it easier for Bernard Kilpatrick to get a meeting with his son?” lawyer John Shea asked jurors during closing arguments. “Absolutely. Luck of the last name.
“Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s not illegal.”
Bernard Kilpatrick is accused of profiting from his Kwame Kilpatrick’s tenure by extorting city contractors.
Shea also countered testimony about $75,000 in payments to his client from Kwame Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group in 2007 and 2008.
“There is no evidence he had any decision-making role in receiving those funds,” Shea told jurors. “There has been evidence he worked for those funds in the sense that he did fundraising, event planning and spoke occasionally.”
Kwame Kilpatrick is accused of defrauding donors and treating the nonprofit group like a personal piggy bank. The Kilpatrick Civic Fund paid for Bernard Kilpatrick to stay in hotels in Texas and Florida.
But Bernard Kilpatrick didn’t know about the payments, which were made by a member of the mayor’s staff.
“This is not evidence of a conspiracy to defraud donors,” Shea said.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer tackled one of the most controversial pieces of evidence shown to jurors in the City Hall corruption trial.
Attorney John Shea tried to explain why Kilpatrick was shown on a secretly recorded FBI video pocketing $2,500 from a city contractor in March 2008.
Kilpatrick, the father of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was owed $5,000 for working on the Synagro sludge-hauling contract, Shea said.
He billed Synagro Vice President James Rosendall, who was an FBI informant, in December 2007 and spent months trying to collect and getting strung along, Shea said.
“This is not attempted extortion,” Shea told jurors during closing arguments. “It was entirely understandable that Bernard Kilpatrick would seek that payment. It’s not extortion. There’s no conspiracy here, either.”
Shea tackled the videotaped payment while trying to convince jurors Bernard Kilpatrick did not try to leverage his son’s status as Detroit mayor to enrich himself.
“It’s hogwash,” Shea said. “You hold these chapters up to the light of day and see Bernard Kilpatrick was doing legitimate work for legitimate clients and getting paid legitimately for it. They don’t in any way evidence participation in extortion schemes or a conspiracy involving racketeering.”
Jurors in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial won’t start deliberating until Friday.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told jurors closing arguments will wrap today but the government’s rebuttal won’t happen until tomorrow morning.
“Everyone had hoped we might have time to get all the final closing arguments in (today),” Edmunds told jurors. “It’s just not going to happen.”
“Sorry for being such a windbag,” Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer John Shea quipped.
“Maybe they think you are,” the judge said. “I don’t know.”
“I might think I am,” Shea said.
Shea and contractor Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer will finish delivering closing arguments today. The government’s rebuttal will follow Friday morning, along with final jury instructions.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer said he needed an acid bath after an FBI informant testified in the City Hall corruption trial.
Attorney John Shea was referring to Synagro Technologies Vice President James Rosendall, who testified in January about free flights and payments to Bernard Kilpatrick and his son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Shea was trying to undercut the credibility of a key witness who wore hidden cameras that recorded him paying alleged kickbacks to Bernard Kilpatrick while pursuing a $1.2 billion sludge-hauling deal.
“James Rosendall was the most manipulative and immoral witness who testified in this case,” Shea told jurors during closing arguments today. “He lied to everybody.”
Shea jokingly told jurors he needed an acid bath after Rosendall’s testimony.
Rosendall was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison sentence for his role in a Detroit sludge-hauling scandal.
Bernard Kilpatrick had a right to profit from the sludge-hauling contract because he worked as a legitimate consultant on the deal, Shea said.
He tried to blunt the impact of a wiretapped phone call during which Kilpatrick told Rosendall he would blow up the sludge deal unless he received money.
“That’s not extortion,” Shea told jurors.
Kilpatrick was simply blowing off steam and didn’t have the “juice” to kill the Synagro deal, the lawyer has previously said.
“He had a lawful claim to share in the success,” of the sludge deal, Shea told jurors today.
Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer ripped testimony that the father of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pocketed kickbacks from a $30 million pension fund deal.
Attorney John Shea said testimony from former mayoral aide Marc Andre Cunningham was not true.
Cunningham testified in December that he was required to kick back a portion of the $300,000 he got from a financial firm that landed a $30 million loan from two Detroit pension funds.
Cunningham testified he was told during a May 2006 meeting at Mosaic restaurant in Greektown that “BK” had to be in on the deal. Cunningham said he agreed to pay Bernard Kilpatrick $3,000 to $5,000 every few months ”to thank the mayor for that deal, for making sure it went through.”
“If that was true, I’d be worried,” Shea told jurors during closing arguments today.
By May 2006, Bernard Kilpatrick already was working on the deal, providing legitimate insight into the city’s pension funds, Shea said.
Cunningham, the former mayor’s fraternity brother, pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy to commit bribery. He was implicated for his role in securing a $30 million investment from the Detroit General Retirement System and Police and Fire pension fund in a venture capital firm.
The government tried to “trap” Bernard Kilpatrick after convincing a former Cobo Center contractor to wear a hidden listening device, according to closing arguments today.
Informant Karl Kado wore a wire while meeting with Bernard Kilpatrick. Kado was trying to recoup $1.6 million he believed the city owed him from 2008 for a janitorial contract Kado had at Cobo and for renovating a city-owned building.
Kado offered Kilpatrick 10 percent of any money collected, according to the secretly recorded conversation, which was played for jurors today.
“They were trying to trap Bernard Kilpatrick into doing something illegal to help Karl Kado get that money,” defense lawyer John Shea told jurors. “There is nothing remotely improper, illegal, extortionate about this conversation.”
To prove his client was a legitimate political consultant, Shea played another wiretapped conversation for jurors between former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father.
The two were discussing the money owed to Kado. The mayor refused to pay all the money sought by Kado.
“This is Bernard doing work,representing his client’s interests, and supposedly being in a conspiracy with the mayor to line his pockets,” Shea told jurors. “The mayor is saying ‘I’m not giving your guy what he wants. I don’t care if this means more money for you.
“There is nothing remotely improper about what he was doing here,” Shea continued. “The funny thing is, he failed.”
Shea belittled Kado’s cooperation with the FBI in fall 2005 and 2006.
Despite numerous debriefings, Kado never initially mentioned allegedly being offered a 10-year extension of his contracts at Cobo by Bernard Kilpatrick in exchange for cash.
Kado also didn’t initially disclose to FBI agents that Bernard Kilpatrick once patted him down for a hidden listening device, Shea said.
There was nothing illegal about Bernard Kilpatrick consulting for clients who had business pending with the city while his son was mayor, defense lawyer John Shea told jurors today.
The lawyer said Kilpatrick was not an extorter, as the government claims, or a person who got paid for no-show work by businessmen who said they felt forced to hire the father of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
“The government has failed utterly to (prove) that,” Shea told jurors during closing arguments. “Bernard Kilpatrick was valuable as a consultant. The more extensive personal relationship network a consultant has, and the more experience the consultant has with how government entities work, the more valuable the consultant is. And Bernard had those in spades.”
Despite his close ties to the mayor and knowledge of the inner-workings of City Hall, Bernard Kilpatrick occasionally failed to secure work for clients, his lawyer said.
“The basic point is he didn’t get what he wanted all the time,” Shea said.
Bernard Kilpatrick wasn’t the only politically connected consultant working on the sidelines of city government, Shea said.
He named former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Conrad Mallett and former state lawmaker Curtis Hertel.
Shea ripped government witness Karl Kado, the former Cobo Center contractor who testified he was extorted out of as much as $300,000 by Bernard Kilpatrick.
“Mr. Kado was, in this trial, the single most difficult witness to get a straight story out of,” Shea told jurors. “We got used to hearing different stories. Karl Kado would flip flop from one sentence to the next, no matter who was asking the questions.”
Kado, who was convicted in the City Hall corruption probe, wore a wire for the FBI and testified that he was held hostage by demands for cash.
Kado testified he was fed up by June 2005 after giving the mayor and his father thousands of dollars.
He allegedly gave Bernard Kilpatrick $100,000 — a goodbye gift of sorts.
“I said ‘take it for the re-election, to help the mayor get elected,’” Kado testified. “I said ‘this is the last time you will see me. I’m tired of this.’”
Another time, Kado said he gave $10,000 to Kwame Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller, who was traveling to Europe for an auto show.
“He wouldn’t take a check. It was another extortion. I had no choice but to give him money,” Kado said. “I am like hostage. I am a hostage at Cobo.”
Shea disputed Kado’s testimony. Kado owed Kilpatrick money for legitimate services, Shea said.
Kado liked paying in cash because he was skimming money from lucrative Cobo contracts, Shea said.
“Bernard Kilpatrick was owed the money,” Shea said. “Bernard Kilpatrick was not dogging Karl Kado for that money. He wasn’t saying he was going to break his legs or anything. There is nothing illegal about that payment.”
Kwame Kilpatrick showed more fight on Twitter yesterday after someone tweaked him over those now-barred freebie flights to Texas.
@lunchbucket67 Its a tremendous blessing.Check your own spirit.It may be something there that you need to get out before blessings flow.
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 13, 2013
@lunchbucket67 U mean like graduating college w/honors, law school, leader of State House, Mayor, husband & father before 31 yrs old? Ok!
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 13, 2013
@kwameandfamily you forgot cheated on wife and family, convicted felon and tax evader. You go chosen one.
— Lunchbucket67 (@Lunchbucket67) February 13, 2013
The numbers help tell a story about Bernard Kilpatrick, the political consultant who Heismanned the witness stand and called zero witnesses during the City Hall corruption trial.
Amount Kilpatrick is paying for his taxpayer-funded lawyer John Shea.
Nicknames. He answers to “BK,” “Ziz” (his name at the Shrine of the Black Madonna) and “Killer.” Behind his back, folks call him “Big Goofy.”
Years in prison Kilpatrick faces if convicted of racketeering conspiracy.
Years old, which is ancient for a defendant. But not as old as alleged-octogenarian drug mule Leo Sharp.
Net gambling losses in Detroit and Las Vegas from 2004 to 2007.
Amount of cash deposited into his consulting firm’s bank accounts during his son’s tenure as mayor.
Amount deposited into Kilpatrick’s personal and business accounts in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Amount IRS says Kilpatrick owes for allegedly under-reporting his taxes and hiding income from the government.