The first time fundraiser Emma Bell got paid to raise cash for Kwame Kilptrick’s mayoral campaign, she was handed a $100,000 check.
And a request in August 2003 from Kilpatrick:
“He said I will see you later and he (asked) would I have something for him,” Bell testified.
Bell spoke after long pauses that added tension and drama to her highly anticipated testimony as a key government witness against Kilpatrick.
“You were taking a long time to answer the questions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked Bell. “Is there a reason why?”
“It’s not easy for me to even be here sir,” Bell said. “It’s definitely not easy for me to answer a question like that.”
“Why,” Bullotta asked.
“It’s just not easy,”Bell said. “Based on my relationship not just with him but with his family as well.”
Kilpatrick sat at the defense table, resting his head in his right hand while Bell testified.
Bullotta asked her to clarify what Kilpatrick meant when he asked her if she would have something for him.
“That I would have a package for him or come back with something,” Bell said.
“Something meaning?” Bullotta asked
“Money,” Bell said.
“Did that take you by surprise?” Bullotta asked.
“Yes sir,” Bell said.
From the $100,000 check, Bell said she gave Kilpatrick $40,000 or $50,000.
She cashed the $100,000 check, withdrew $10,000 and converted the balance to cashier’s checks.
Bell stashed the checks in a can that she hid under her bed or under her mattress.
“Have you ever been asked to give back some of the money you got from commission checks?” the prosecutor asked.
“No sir,” Bell said.
Bell pocketed 10-15 percent of any money she helped raise for Kilpatrick. The feds allege she pocketed more than $900,000 during the time she worked as a fundraiser for Kilpatrick.
Bell said she delivered the kickback from the first $100,000 check to Kilpatrick at his office in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center or at his home.
She carried the money — in $50 and $100 bills — around in her pocket or her bra, Bell testified.
Bell would deliver kickbacks to Kilpatrick inside the mayor’s office or an adjoining room outfitted with a barber’s chair, she testified.
Each time, Bell would hand him $8,000 or $10,000.
“He’d put it in his pocket,” Bell testified.
She was asked how much in all she gave Kilpatrick.
“I don’t know the exact amount,” Bell said. “It was more than $100 (thousand) and more than $200 (thousand).”
Prosecutors allege she gave Kilpatrick more than $286,000 in kickbacks.