Kilpatrick sweating, fundraiser crying after dramatic testimony

Testimony from Kwame Kilpatrick’s fundraiser turned ugly Thursday when the former mayor’s lawyer pressed her over lies she told to investigators.

Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas pressed Bell over a lie she told to IRS Special Agent Ron Sauer about kickbacks she allegedly paid to the former mayor.

“You said you didn’t want him to look petty,” Thomas told Bell.

“Did you say greedy or did you say petty?” Thomas continued. “You said petty. You know you said petty.”

“Why are you treating me like that?” Bell said.

She started to shuffle papers stacked on the witness stand.

“Please put those papers down,” Thomas said.

“You lied to Agent Sauer,” Thomas said. “You committed a federal crime. What did they do to you as a result of that crime? They didn’t do anything, did they? Nothing further.”

Bell pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion for her role in the corruption scandal. Under the plea deal, Bell agreed to cooperate against Kilpatrick and prosecutors will recommend she spend no more than 18 months in prison.

“If the prosecution is not happy with your testimony, they don’t have to recommend a reduction in your sentence,” Thomas told Bell. “You have to please them to get what you want, which is probation.”

“That’s an unfair statement,” Bell said. “That’s a very unfair statement.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta was up next.

“Why is that an unfair statement?” he asked Bell.

“If I sit up here and lie,” Bell said, “it’s worse.”

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