Robert Snell

Robert Snell

Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at or (313) 222-2028.

Day 61: Feds nearing finish line in Kilpatrick trial

Kwame Kilpatrick shorted the IRS out of almost $200,000 by failing to report cash and other income, according to testimony Friday. The new figures emerged as prosecutors neared the end of their criminal case against Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and contractor Bobby Ferguson. Kilpatrick, meanwhile, continued to make news outside of federal court. The state … Continue Reading →

Day 59: Feds air Kilpatrick finances, dad's wiretapped calls

Jurors heard dry but potentially devastating testimony about Kwame Kilpatrick’s finances Wednesday and listened to FBI wiretaps that portrayed Bernard Kilpatrick as scheming to give his clients a piece of the Book Cadillac hotel renovation project. The deep dive into the former Detroit mayor’s finances was part of the government’s attempt to prove Kilpatrick cheated … Continue Reading →

Day 58: Pimped rides, payoffs and a double-cross

Jurors heard about former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Cadillac cravings and threats allegedly made by his father to kill a $1.2 billion sludge deal and enrich a relative. The revelations emerged during FBI informant James Rosendall’s third day on the witness stand. Jurors also heard several secretly recorded phone calls between Bernard Kilpatrick and his … Continue Reading →

Day 57: Kilpatrick defense tries to justify payoff

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 … Continue Reading →

Day 55: Feds attack Ferguson's character, credibility

Prosecutors accused Bobby Ferguson of doctoring records, slurring a rival black contractor and doing shoddy work on some of Detroit’s most important construction projects, including the Book Cadillac hotel. Ferguson also threatened rivals over his close ties to ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and prevented black contractor Odell Jones from securing city deals after one dispute. Text … Continue Reading →

Day 54: Undercover video unspooling soon

A defense lawyer tried to portray contractor Bobby Ferguson’s relationship with Kwame Kilpatrick as normal, considering powerful white contractors also had direct access to the Detroit mayor. The focus on Ferguson’s relationship with Kilpatrick came as court watchers anticipated testimony from Synagro scandal figure James R. Rosendall Jr. Rosendall is a West Michigan businessman whose … Continue Reading →

Day 53: Star witness fades from spotlight

Former Kwame Kilpatrick aide and friend Derrick Miller capped a fifth day of testimony by complaining about the effects City Hall corruption has had on his marriage and personal life. The government’s star witness revealed he is in the midst of a divorce while facing up to 10 years in prison for his role in … Continue Reading →

Day 52: Payoffs, lies, home cooking

Star witness Derrick Miller is a greedy liar who sold out his high-school pal and former boss Kwame Kilpatrick in hopes of going home to his wife and kid, not federal prison, according to testimony Friday. Miller faced his roughest day on the witness stand as Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer attacked his credibility and motivation behind … Continue Reading →