'Bribe-paying' Grosse Pointe businessman set to testify today

Tony Soave

A Grosse Pointe Farms businessman who allegedly bribed Kwame Kilpatrick with private flights to Bermuda and beyond, a New York City shopping trip, $10,000 worth of courtside Detroit Pistons tickets and allegedly helped Kilpatrick’s ex-mistress Christine Beatty lease a Land Rover, is expected to testify today.

Business Tony Soave, a multimillionaire businessman allegedly extorted by the former Detroit mayor, was spotted outside federal court this morning.

Soave is expected to face defense questions about his connections with known mob associates and the theory that he was too powerful to be extorted by a politician.

According to prosecutors, Kilpatrick held a $50 million contract to fix aging sewers until  Soave dumped another businessman, the prosecutor said.

Soave was CEO of a company called Inland Waters, which is referred to in the indictment as “Company I.”

A lawyer for  former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado earlier said Soave tried to ply the bureaucrat with free use of his 100-foot yacht.

Christine Beatty

According to court records, Soave told federal agents about bribes he paid other officials to win city contracts worth millions. Soave’s lawyer says he was extorted.

Soave told agents he donated $125,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit group, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, helped Beatty get a sweetheart deal on a Land Rover and paid down her bad credit, Mercado’s lawyer claimed in an earlier filing.

Soave also gave the mayor’s father Bernard Kilpatrick a $6,000 watch, according to a court filing.

The list goes on, according to the filing: Soave paid for a Christmas stay at the Ritz hotel in Naples, Fla., plus $3,000 for a personal trainer and paid for gifts for the mayor’s family, including a woman’s purse and shoes.

Robert Snell

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