Jurors were urged today to send Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and contractor Bobby Ferguson to prison for “breathtaking corruption” that cheated taxpayers across Metro Detroit.
Jury deliberations will begin in earnest Tuesday in federal court following a five-month trial featuring testimony from more than 80 witnesses in one of the country’s largest public corruption cases in decades.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Taxpayers across Metro Detroit are the real victims of Kwame Kilpatrick’s corrupt tenure and the time has come for him to be punished, a federal prosecutor said today.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow offered an impassioned response to an emotional closing argument given one day earlier by Bobby Ferguson’s defense lawyer Gerald Evelyn.
“Throughout this trial, it has become completely clear that Mayor Kilpatrick and his accomplices, his partners, used the public that he was elected to serve,” Chutkow told jurors.
“Mr. Kilpatrick was elected by the citizens of Detroit to represent their interests, not the defendants,” he continued. “To look out for their welfare, not his own wallet. He was not elected to quietly stuff half a million dollars into his bank accounts, so he could make sure Bobby Ferguson got $83 million in revenues, so he could make sure his father was a middleman on city deals. He was entrusted to act for the people of Detroit.”
On Thursday, Evelyn quoted John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. while urging jurors to acquit the Detroit contractor and close friend of Kilpatrick.
On Friday, Chutkow quoted Kennedy’s sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics and railed against public corruption 40 years ago.
Chutkow used one of Kennedy Shriver’s speeches to draw comparisons to corruption in Detroit.
Quoting Kennedy Shriver, Chutkow said:
“These are most bitter days, and yet as our leaders stand revealed, we see not evil men, but shallow and pathetic men.
The final charge against these men, I think, will not be shabby deals, their frantic coverups. No. It will simply be that having been given extraordinary power and opportunity to make life better in this nation and the world, they scarcely tried. Their message was ‘grab what you can and run.’ Let us see if we can make something grow in the desert they left behind.”
Chutkow also said the Special Olympics was a real nonprofit, unlike the ex-mayor’s alleged personal piggy bank, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Chutkow said Detroit is suffering through its own bitter days, thanks to Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick and Ferguson.
“The scale of corruption was breathtaking,” Chutkow told jurors. “Corruption depends on indifference. We cannot turn away and ignore the corruption that occurred in this city.
“It is time for the former mayor and his accomplices to be held accountable for their crimes,” he continued. “It is past time.
“What you are here to do is assess responsibility for the shameful events that transpired in the city,” he added. “That is something you can do and we are giving you the tools to do it.”
Prosecutors tried to rehabilitate the reputations of criminals and other government witnesses who testified about alleged crimes committed by Kwame Kilpatrick, his dad Bernard and pal Bobby Ferguson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow defended star witness Derrick Miller and others one day after defense lawyers called the witnesses liars “bought and paid for by the government.”
Chutkow defended Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell, who testified about delivering kickbacks to the Detroit mayor stuffed in her bra.
“They called her an alcoholic and gambler,” Chutkow told jurors today. “Another long-time (Kilpatrick) friend thrown on the scrap heap.”
Chutkow defended former Kilpatrick aide Marc Andre Cunningham, who testified about being forced to kickback cash to Bernard Kilpatrick from a pension fund deal.
Cunningham was Kilpatrick’s fraternity brother in college who was one of two dozen people convicted in the City Hall corruption probe.
Defense lawyers tried to cast doubt on Cunningham’s testimony.
“Why, because Cunningham admitted paying kickbacks to the mayor’s father at the request of his friend, the mayor,” Chutkow told jurors.
Chutkow also defended alleged bagman Mahlon Clift, the mayor’s long-time friend who testified he delivered $90,000 in cash to Kilpatrick in Detroit and Texas.
The money came from Ferguson, who was sharing proceeds of illegal activity, according to prosecutors.
“Why are the defendants fighting so hard?” Chutkow asked. “Because they know if you believe what he said was true, then they are guilty of committing bribery.”
Kwame Kilpatrick’s Achilles heel, text messages, are the most important evidence for jurors to consider when deciding whether to convict the former mayor, his pal and father, prosecutors said.
Text messages sent between Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson reveal bid rigging, extortion and other crimes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow told jurors today.
“They are a crime scene frozen in time that you can examine from any angle you want,” Chutkow said. “There is no better evidence. Corruption be its very nature happens with winks and nods and the payoffs happen in the shadows when nobody is looking.”
The lack of paper trail documenting hundreds of thousands of payments from ex-Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado and Bernard Kilpatrick indicates a series of bribe and extortion payments, prosecutors said.
Kado paid in cash because Bernard Kilpatrick didn’t want to document illegal activity, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow told jurors today.
“Ask yourself, if Bernard Kilpatrick ran a legitimate consulting business, where are the invoices…where are the receipts, where are the form 1099s?” Chutkow asked jurors. “Why didn’t he ever demand a check from Mr. Kado so he could keep his own ledgers in order? It’s because he didn’t want anyone to know about those payments.”
Chutkow turned sarcastic while discussing Beranrd Kilpatrick’s defense that he was a legitimate consultant doing real work for clients seeking city contracts.
“Most of the work was by (defense lawyer) John Shea trying to come up with an explanation of why people were paying Bernard Kilpatrick in the first place,” Chutkow said.
Kwame Kilpatrick, his mistress and family drained his nonprofit group of $550,000, money that allegedly bankrolled a high-rolling lifestyle, prosecutors said today.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow criticized the former mayor’s lawyer for misleading jurors, telling them prosecutors only accused Kilpatrick of misspending about $13,000.
Chutkow said the defense was “incredibly misleading.”
The defense’s $13,000 figure didn’t include more than $200,000 given to the mayor’s family and friends, including ex-mistress Christine Beatty and father Bernard Kilpatrick, the prosecutor said.
The figure also didn’t include $150,000 in nonprofit cash spent on Kilpatrick’s political campaigns or money allegedly misspent in 2008, the year he resigned as mayor.
“That’s the year when the mayor, Bernard Kilpatrick, Christine Beatty and others drained the fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own use,” Chutkow said.
Kilpatrick didn’t bother repaying the nonprofit group for improper personal expenses until after receiving a subpoena for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund’s records, the prosecutor said.
After receiving the subpoena, Kilpatrick repaid $13,000.
“That subpoena put him on notice that there was an investigation of the uses of that fund,” Chutkow said. “It was only after the subpoena came out, after almost a decade of using the money, that he pays back a sliver of what was owed.”
Kwame Kilpatrick’s greed and quest for cash trumped family ties, prosecutors said while belittling the former mayor’s explanation for more than $500,000 in unexplained cash found in his bank accounts.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow showed jurors text messages that revealed Kilpatrick’s own sister griped about city contracts that allegedly were steered to the mayor’s pal, Bobby Ferguson.
“Can we make a $ too?!!” Ayanna Kilpatrick Ferguson wrote in one text.
“By putting Ferguson over his own sister, Kwame Kilpatrick was really picking himself and his own financial benefit over his own sister,” Chutkow told jurors.
Chutkow dismissed defense suggestions that Kilpatrick was given large cash gifts by friends and staffers and that the gifts explained how the former mayor spent almost $841,000 more than what he earned while in public office.
Chutkow rejected claims that Kilpatrick received some or most of that money from birthday gifts given at a “Splash of Red” party.
He showed jurors one gift from the party, a $10 check from a woman named Mablene Rogers.
The cash Kilpatrick spent was kickbacks and bribes from city contractors, Chutkow said.
“There was no splash of red,” Chutkow told jurors. “This was a tidal wave of green.”
Chutkow said Kilpatrick was selfish, forcing underlings to give him cash on Christmas and his birthday each year.
Chutkow focused on the former mayor’s employee Kizzi Montgomery, who testified she was forced to give money to Kilpatrick.
“Think about this, if Mr. Kilpatrick was willing to shake down a modestly compensated staffer, do you think he had any reservations about shaking down a businessman of means?” Chutkow asked jurors.
Bobby Ferguson had so much influence within Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration that he could pressure city officials to steer contracts his way and threaten rich and powerful businessmen, prosecutors said today.
Prosecutor Mark Chutkow showed jurors text messages illustrating Ferguson’s influence when he wanted to grab a piece of work repairing a collapsed sewer in Sterling Heights.
“We need to meet on how I move in,” Ferguson texted the mayor in one exchange shown to jurors today. “I got a great idea sir, holla in the a.m.”
Chutkow also fought defense arguments that Ferguson and Kilpatrick had no power to scare rich moguls like Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave.
Soave allegedly dumped his minority subcontractor after being ordered to by Kilpatrick.
“The defense said Tony Soave is such a big shot there is no way they could threaten him,” Chutkow said. “(But) he has businesses that can be messed with. If it was true he couldn’t get bullied, why did he dump his good friend Charlie Williams and insert Bobby Ferguson into his place when the mayor told him to do that? Why not just say no? He did it because the mayor told him to.”
Soave also was scared to dump Ferguson on a contract after the mayor’s friend performed poorly on a job.
“Why didn’t he dump him right there?” Chutkow asked. “He didn’t need the mayor’s permission — or did he?”
Prosecutors refocused the City Hall corruption trial on crimes allegedly committed by Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson and the ex-mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick.
Prosecutors delivered a rebuttal one day after defense lawyers delivered passionate closing arguments that referenced the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr.
“This case has always been about bribery, extortion and fraud,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow told jurors. “Rather than meeting those allegations head on, the defendants tried to justify their actions as somehow being drive by the advancement of minority businesses.
“That agenda was a smoke screen for their real agenda, which was helping themselves to the city’s resources,” he added. “In reality, they were equal opportunity extortionists who drove out black and white contractors who got in their way.”
Chutkow showed jurors text messages between Kwame Kilpatrick and Ferguson discussing contract prices and allegedly rigging bids.
“Why is the mayor of a major city talking about the prices of a contract?” Chutkow asked jurors. “Because he was going to share in the prices of that contract.”
Kwame Kilpatrick didn’t send his arch-nemesis a Valentine’s Day card yesterday.
Instead, he insulted Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who filed felony charges against Kilpatrick amid the text-message scandal, which ended with Hizzoner in the hoosegow. Later, Worthy pushed for the former mayor to pay more each month in restitution to Detroit.
Kilpatrick’s fresh beef with Worthy started Tuesday, when he tried pumping himself up for closing arguments in the City Hall corruption trial.
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 12, 2013
Kilpatrick’s tweet sparked some snark.
@kwameandfamily- Victory Day for Kym Worthy!
— Margie (@MargieintheD) February 14, 2013
— KwameKilpatrick (@KwameAndFamily) February 15, 2013