A Detroiter's guide to deciphering Kilpatrick crew's nicknames

The alleged Kilpatrick Enterprise had a unique language that, to outsiders, could seem “Top Secret.”

Everyone had a nickname. Or three.

Testimony, text messages, wiretaps and other evidence seized by FBI shed light on the secret language.

Here’s a crib sheet:

“Boss” — Term used by contractor Bobby Ferguson to refer to Kwame Kilpatrick.

“Black” — A nickname for Kilpatrick. Ferguson allegedly directed the courier Mahlon Clift to deliver $90,000 cash to Kilpatrick in fall 2008. “Hold onto it for ‘Black,'” Ferguson allegedly told him, according to testimony.

“BW” — Ferguson’s first and middle initial — the  pistol-whipping demolition contractor’s middle name is Wesley. When the FBI raided his Riverfront Towers condo in September 2010, they found Ferguson dressed only in his underwear and his initials painted on the wall.

Bernard Kilpatrick

Nataki — nickname used by his mother, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

“Zizwe” — the nickname Bernard Kilpatrick used as an auto signature on text messages, according to court files. He also is known as “Killer.”

“Pops” — Kwame Kilpatrick’s preferred way to refer to his father in texts.

Slickman” — Slur Ferguson used to refer to Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado.

“Zeke” — Nickname of Kilpatrick administration official Derrick Miller. Originally charged alongside Kwame Kilpatrick, Miller plead guilty, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify during the trial.

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