Prosecutors tried to show Kwame Kilpatrick’s fundraiser had enough money to cover more than $193,000 in gambling losses at Greektown Casino after kicking back cash to the former mayor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta reviewed fundraiser Emma Bell gambling activity between 2005 and 2008. He was trying to blunt defense assertions that Bell spent campaign contributions at the casino instead of paying kickbacks to Kilpatrick.
In 2006, Bell lost more than $39,000 playing slots at Greektown, according to testimony.
“Did she make enough money to cover that loss even if she split half of the money with Kwame Kilpatrick?” Bullotta asked IRS Special Agent Ron Sauer.
“Yes,” Sauer testified.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s fundraiser stashed cashier’s checks purchased with money contributed by campaign donors under her mattress, according to testimony Wednesday.
From 2003 to 2008, Bell was paid more than $904,000 to raise money for Kilpatrick’s purported charity, mayoral campaigns and inaugural committee.
Bell lied to agents initially about the kickbacks, according to earlier testimony.
She ultimately told investigators she gave Kilpatrick 50 percent of any donation over $25,000 as well as half of donations of $5,000 or more.
“She was trying to protect Kwame Kilpatrick,” Sauer testified. “She didn’t want him to look petty. She considered him like a son.”
Sauer was able to corroborate Bell’s story by interviewing the fundraiser’s driver, Angela Burris.
Burris told agents she would drive Bell to the bank. From there, she would drive her to the City-County Building in Detroit, which houses city government.
“Were there text messages indicating Bell would be meeting with the mayor?” Bullotta asked Sauer.
“Yes,” the agent testified.
A former Kilpatrick aide, Marc Andre Cunningham, also told investigators Bell met privately with Kilpatrick.
“Did Andre Cunningham say Bell would go into the barber chair room alone with the mayor?” Bullotta asked the agent.
“Yes,” Sauer said.
It is unclear if Bullotta was referring to the barber shop in the basement of the City-County Building.
Cunningham is one of 11 people who have struck plea deals with the government during the City Hall corruption probe and agreed to testify against Kilpatrick.
An aide to Kilpatrick who headed the Detroit Film Office, Cunningham pleaded guilty in November 2010 to conspiracy to commit bribery and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. He faces up to 37 months in prison and is awaiting sentencing.