Kilpatrick told pastor to hire wife, witness says

Kwame Kilpatrick told an influential bishop to hire his wife after agreeing to give the clergyman’s nonprofit group $300,000 in state grant money, a witness testified Thursday.

Donna Williams, former executive director of Vanguard Community Development Corp., said the group’s leader, Bishop Edgar Vann called her in fall 2000.

“I was told by Bishop Vann that while I was on my honeymoon that Mr. Kilpatrick went to his home and told him he wanted us to hire her for $75,000,” Williams testified.

Vann, head of Second Ebenezer Church, was the Kilpatricks’ pastor.

Donna Williams

A month later, in October 2000, the state mailed Vanguard $150,000. The money was supposed to be spent on arts and cultural activities for low-income Detroit residents.

Carlita Kilpatrick eventually received $137,500 in state grant money. She did no work for the cash and pocketed a $91,000 salary, prosecutors allege.

“While I didn’t like the circumstances of her hire I did like Carlita,” Williams testified.

Carlita Kilpatrick was paid in advance for developing student handbooks and a curriculum. She attended several meetings but eventually stopped coming even though she was paid $37,500, Williams testified.

“This was not a normal grant,” Williams testified. “It was not a normal relationship.”

“Did she ever refund any money?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.

“No,” Williams said.

Williams submitted paperwork to the state that included an invoice for work that was supposed to be performed by Carlita Kilpatrick’s firm.

Shortly after, Kwame Kilpatrick called Williams.

“He said I messed up, that I was not supposed to include the U.N.I.T.E. invoice,” Williams testified. “I thought he was angry with me.”

Soon after, the state yanked Vanguard’s funding.

Williams’ sister works as a federal prosecutor in the public corruption unit.

“Is the fact your sister is a prosecutor, did that affect your testimony today?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.

“No,” Williams said.

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