Star witness takes stand against Kilpatrick

Derrick Miller, left, outside federal court with lawyer Byron Pitts.

Derrick Miller, left, outside federal court with lawyer Byron Pitts.

Derrick Miller, the government’s star witness, took the witness stand shortly after 9 a.m. and is testifying against his high-school friend and political boss, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Miller is talking about the earliest roots of his friendship with Kilpatrick and alleged corruption during the former Detroit politician’s public career, which started in the state House.

Miller said the two met in a 9th grade English class at Cass Tech and played together on the basketball team.

Kilpatrick is projecting a casual air, resting his chin on his right fist while Miller, dressed in a dark suit and blue shirt, is testifying about helping obtain state grant money that benefited Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson.

Carlita Kilpatrick eventually received $137,500 in state grant money. She did no work for the cash and pocketed a $91,000 salary, prosecutors allege.

Bobby Ferguson

Bobby Ferguson

Ferguson, meanwhile, spent about $100,000 in state grant money renovating his company’s offices and repairing the roof, according to the indictment.

Ferguson’s defense team claimed the money was spent building training rooms for area youths to learn construction skills.

Miller, who visited Ferguson’s offices on Wyoming in Detroit several times, disagreed.

“Did you see anything that would support vocational training?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.

“Vocational training? No,” Miller said.

“You didn’t see training of young people to get jobs in the construction trades?” Chutkow asked.

Kwame Kilpatrick

Kwame Kilpatrick

“Not to my knowledge,” Miller said.

Miller’s testimony started slowly as the former political aide backed up earlier testimony about allegedly illegal expenses paid by Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group.

In a clam, flat voice, Miller testified Kilpatrick’s non-profit group spent almost $36,000 for polling work.

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