Kilpatrick pocketed cash from casino mogul, lawyer says

It was 2006.

Business titans and others crammed into a VIP mezzanine inside the International Marketplace for the “Splash of Red” party to celebrate Kwame Kilpatrick’s 36th birthday.

Don Barden

Casino mogul Don Barden was there. He grabbed a microphone.

“Come on y’all, let’s celebrate for this man,” the Detroit businessman implored the crowd.

Barden plopped $5,000 into a gift box and urged others to do the same, according to testimony Thursday.

The story came from Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas, who mentioned the party to offer an explanation for the mayor’s mysterious source of cash.

Barden died in May 2011.

Thomas questioned Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell about the party, which she attended.

“Do you remember other people putting money in the box?” Thomas asked.

“I remember people coming up and saying Happy Birthday,” Bell said.

“And putting money in the box?” the lawyer asked.

“A few,” Bell said.

“Did you see Don Barden solicit people to put money in the box?” Thomas asked.

“I could hear him,” Bell said.

“Did you hear him saying he put $5,000 in the box?” Thomas asked.

“Sometimes Don Barden would say things he didn’t do,” Bell said. “I’m sorry he’s dead, but he was good at making promises.”

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