Feds see corruption behind every bush, Shea says

Bernard Kilpatrick was a skilled political consultant who did not trade on his son’s role as mayor of Detroit to pocket millions, his lawyer told jurors.

The racketeering case is all about a government that sees “corruption behind every bush” regarding Bernard Kilpatrick, defense attorney John Shea said Friday.

“There is nothing illegal about having discussions about business associates who happen to be friends of people in the administration,” Shea said. “What he got paid, he earned.”

What is illegal, Shea said, would be for Kwame Kilpatrick to tell contractors to pay Bernard Kilpatrick in return for city contracts.

“We call that bribery,” Shea told jurors.

Bernard Kilpatrick is charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion and filing false tax returns. He faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.

Shea tried to discredit a key government witness, former Kwame Kilpatrick aide Marc Andre Cunningham.

“He was dirty to begin with,” Shea told jurors.

Cunningham is a fraternity brother of Kwame Kilpatrick’s. He pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in November 2010 stemming from a Detroit pension fund investment and is awaiting sentencing. He admitted to receiving  $300,000 in bribes and faces up to 37 months in prison.

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