Kilpatrick wedding invite: Cash gifts preferred

 Kwame and Carlita Kilpatrick check in  with their three sons at the American Airlines ticket counter at Detroit Metro on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. (Velvet S. McNeil / The Detroit News)

Kwame and Carlita Kilpatrick check in with their three sons at the American Airlines ticket counter at Detroit Metro on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. (Velvet S. McNeil / The Detroit News)

A longtime pal of Kwame Kilpatrick who sat on the ex-mayor’s nonprofit group testified the group spent money legitimately.

Erik Rayford, a classmate of Kilpatrick’s at Cass Tech,said the Civic Fund benefited the community and didn’t do anything illegal or unethical that would jeopardize his job as a bank examiner.

Erik Rayford

Erik Rayford

“I know there are rules that need to be followed and it gave me comfort that we were following those rules and making sure anything we did didn’t impact my job and career,” Rayford testified.

Prosecutors, however, say Kilpatrick tapped the nonprofit group to pay for expensive resort trips for his family and mistress, golf clubs, yoga lessons, spy gear and other items.

Rayford attended Kilpatrick’s wedding in 1995 to Carlita Kilpatrick in the Bahamas.

Jurors were shown the wedding invitation, which read “monetary gifts preferred.”

Kilpatrick’s lawyers are trying to show that Kilpatrick was given large cash gifts and that the money explained why the ex-mayor had more than $500,000 in mysterious cash in his bank accounts.

Rayford was asked the amount of his wedding gift to Kilpatrick.

“I’m sure I gave something,” he said. “I’m sure it was generous.”

There were a number of parties for Kilpatrick over the years during which people gave the ex-mayor cash gifts.

Rayford attended a birthday party for Kilpatrick in 2006 and was asked about the music.

“A lot of jazz,” Rayford said. “He was called the ‘Hip Hop Mayor’ but they didn’t plan any hip hop. I was disappointed.”

Rayford made news recently.

Rayford gave Kilpatrick $1,799, which Kilpatrick hid from parole officials. The money could have been used to pay restitution Kilpatrick owes the city of Detroit.

James C. Thomas

James C. Thomas

Kilpatick was ordered to spend a weekend in jail last month and has been barred from traveling home to Texas after failing to disclose the cash gifts.

Rayford said Kilpatrick stepped away from any official role with the Kilpatrick Civic Fund in approximately 2001.

Kilpatrick’s lawyer is trying to shift blame for Civic Fund money benefiting the former mayor. James C. Thomas has repeatedly asked whether the Civic Fund’s lawyer William Phillips played a role in approving expenses, including money spent paying to move the Kilpatrick family after he resigned in 2008.

Rayford testified about a meeting in 2008 after Kilpatrick resigned as mayor amid the text-message scandal.


Ayanna Kilpatrick Ferguson

Kilpatrick’s sister Ayanna Kilpatrick Ferguson urged the board to give the ex-mayor’s family money, Rayford testified.

The Civic Fund paid to move the family out of the Manoogian Mansion and to rent a luxury condo in the Park Shelton building in Detroit, among other things.

“We approved some funds to go toward that,” Rayford said.

The Civic Fund’s lawyer did not object to the expenses, Rayford said.

“That’s one thing that made me think there was nothing wrong,” Rayford said. “It felt like the right thing to do. Most of the (Civic Fund) money came from (Kilpatrick’s) energies and contacts and support of the community.”

Prosecutors say the expenses were wrong and defrauded donors.

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