Kilpatrick knew about freebie threads, suit maker says

Fashion International owner Larry Alebiosu

A Southfield suit maker testified Monday that Kwame Kilpatrick knew a city contractor paid $4,800 for the mayor’s custom suits in early 2002.

Prosecutors solicited the testimony from Fashion International owner Larry Alebiosu to counter defense suggestions that Kilpatrick never knew about the purchase and didn’t reward the contractor with a $7 million city contract.

Kilpatrick’s lawyer also suggested Alebiosu pocketed the money.

But Monday, Alebiosu said he called Kilpatrick in March 2002 after contractor Johnson Akinwusi made the $4,800 payment.

“I don’t remember his reaction but I called him…and told him Johnson came in and made the payment,” Alebiosu said.

Kwame Kilpatrick (Cartoon by Henry Payne)

Akinwusi testified earlier that the suit purchases and a $10,000 donation to the ex-mayor’s nonprofit group, helped his company win city deals.

Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas tried to counter one prosecution claim about the ex-mayor having access to large amounts of illicit cash extorted from contractors and others.

“Did you ever see Mr. Kilpatrick with large amounts of cash?” Thomas asked.

“No,” Alebiosu said.

Kilpatrick bought several suits between 2000 and 2008 and always paid in installments, the suit maker testified.

Sometimes, Kilpatrick would put his suits on layaway and take months to pay in full, the suit maker said.

Unlike most customers, Alebiosu never made Kilpatrick pay in advance.

“I wanted to have my garments on the mayor,” he said.

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