Key government witness blew big bucks at Greektown casino, witness says

Defense lawyer James C. Thomas

Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer exposed the hard-gambling lifestyle of a key government witness who will testify she paid cash kickbacks to the former mayor.

Defense lawyer James C. Thomas referred to Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell as an alcoholic and gambling addict.

From 2005 through 2008, Bell lost more than $193,000 gambling at Greektown Casino, according to testimony Wednesday.

In 2006, she bet more than $569,000.

“How’d she do?” Thomas asked.

“She lost,” IRS Special Agent Ron Sauer said.

“How much,” Thomas said.

“$39,278,” the agent testified.

Former Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell

On the same day in 2008 that Bell collected a $25,000 payment from a Kilpatrick-related entity, she gambled more than $9,000 at Greektown, according to testimony.

Thomas asked if the money she allegedly gave to Kilpatrick as a kickback instead was spent playing slots at the casino.

“She told us she kicked back a portion of the money to Kwame Kilpatrick,” the agent said.

“But there is no corroboration,” the lawyer said.

“There is,” Sauer said. “The records support her testimony.”

“Are there any phone records that she tried to set up an appointment with Mr. Kilpatrick?” Thomas asked.

“There were calls to the mayor’s office,” the agent said.

“Did anyone see her hand money to the mayor?” Thomas asked. “That’s a yes or no.”

“No,” Sauer testified.

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