Contractor details free jet flights, shopping for Kilpatrick

Kwame Kilpatrick outside federal court with lawyer James C. Thomas, left.

A Grosse Pointe Farms businessman allegedly extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick provided 20 free round-trip flights on his private jets for the ex-Detroit mayor and members of his inner circle.

The first trip happened during an August 2003 blackout and stretched over several years and trips across the United States, Bermuda and the Bahamas. In all,the flights cost $260,000 — but Kilpatrick flew for free.

From the indictment:

“(Soave) continued to pay for KWAME KILPATRICK’s flights in part because he knew KWAME KILPATRICK could adversely impact his businesses in the City if he refused.”

Kilpatrick was in the Bahamas with his family in August 2003 when Soave was approached for the first time, the businessman testified.

“We brought him back here after things got stabilized here,” Soave testified.

Soave said he had three private jets, including a Learjet 45, a Dassault Falcon 20 and a Turbo Commander.

There were numerous requests to use the plane by Kilpatrick or his friend and aide Derrick Miller, Soave said.

“At some point, did you ever talk to (Kilpatrick) about billing him for the flights?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.

“I brought up to him that maybe I should be billing him for some of these flights because it was getting to be a lot of flights,” Soave said.

“What did the mayor say?” Bullotta asked.

“He said he would look into it,” Soave said.

Kilpatrick never paid, he added.

Soave treated the flights as income on his own taxes.

“Why did you keep allowing him to use the jets?” Bullotta asked.

“I wanted to keep him happy,” Soave said. “I didn’t want him holding another job up, OK? There was one job held up and I had that in my mind all the time and I didn’t want it to happen again.”

Soave also flew Kilpatrick and his mistress Christine Beatty to New York City.

Soave said he bought a $6,000 Cartier watch for Kilpatrick’s father Bernard, a purse and other items.

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