Kilpatrick lawyer lobs insult at airport security boss

Defense lawyer James C. Thomas and Kwame Kilpatrick outside federal court.

Defense lawyer James C. Thomas and Kwame Kilpatrick outside federal court.

An FBI agent who smuggled $90,000 through airport security during a test wasn’t bulging like the “Michelin Man,” as defense lawyers claimed, according to a videotape of the test.

Questions about the test led to an insulting exchange between ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer and an airport security official.

Jurors saw a video of FBI Agent Joseph Jensen stuffing stacks of cash down his pants before walking through a metal detector at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The test was staged last fall after defense lawyers claimed alleged bagman Mahlon Clift, who delivered money to Kilpatrick in 2008, could not have made it through airport security without triggering metal detectors or looking like the “Michelin Man.”

The money was not visible after Jensen, wearing a short-sleeve white T-shirt and blue jeans, stuffed the cash down his pants.

James C. Thomas

James C. Thomas

There was, however, a thin crease visible above his waistline. Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas seized on the crease while questioning U.S. Homeland Security official Steve Lorincz.

“So you let people go through airport security like that?” Thomas asked Lorincz, who oversees screening at the airport.

“I would not do anything with that,” Lorincz said.

“You would not ask him to go through a secondary (check)point?” Thomas asked.

Lorincz said the crease appeared innocuous and is something airport security screeners see “thousands of times every day.”

“And you’re here to ensure our safety,” Thomas said insultingly.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told the lawyer to move on.

Thomas faulted Jensen for not hiding the money in his pockets, like Clift did when he allegedly delivered the money to Kilpatrick.

“Wouldn’t you want the test to be accurate?” Thomas asked.

“The test was accurate,” Jensen said.

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