Kwame Kilpatrick and his co-defendants got rich by stealing public money away from Detroit residents, a federal prosecutor said Friday during opening statements in the high-profile corruption trial.
Kilpatrick was transformed from an average public servant to a high-rolling mayor living a luxury lifestyle bankrolled by taxpayer dollars, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow said.
He read from text messages seized by investigators and exchanged among Kilpatrick and his co-defendants.
“Let’s get us some money. No deal without me. It’s my time to get paid.”
Kilpatrick sat impassively while the prosecutor spoke.
“They made themselves rich by taking public money for themselves and away from the city Kwame Kilpatrick took an oath to serve,” Chutkow told jurors.
Kilpatrick pocketed more than $540,000 during his tenure as mayor “over and above his salary,” Chutkow said.
“Where did this money come from?” Chutkow asked jurors. “Not from his payroll check. Not from a rich relative. Or savvy investments.”
The cash came from contractor and friend Bobby Ferguson, Chutkow said.
“You will learn another man rose to power and fortune in lockstep with the new mayor,” the prosecutor told jurors. “Bobby Ferguson called himself the mayor’s soldier. He called him boss. He was Kwame Kilpatrick’s secret business partner. Kwame Kilpatrick made him rich.”