Cobo contractor paid Kilpatrick bribes early on, records allege

Who is Karl Kado?

Karl Kado

He’s a former Cobo Center contractor, a big-bucks bribe payer and the canary in the City Hall corruption coal mine whose testimony helped the feds land convictions against at least 10 people.

The Iraq native and West Bloomfield resident is one of the government’s first cooperating witnesses, and arguably the most damaging.

Bernard Kilpatrick sits behind his son during Kwame’s sentencing on state charges in 2008.

The entrepreneur once held lucrative contracts at Cobo Center. To keep the gig, Kado allegedly paid at least $360,000 in bribes to Kwame Kilpatrick, his father and former mayoral aide Derrick Miller.

Kado, recruited by the feds in 2005 and convicted of tax crimes, helped the FBI secure wiretaps and secret recordings.

Today, he stares down the government’s biggest targets.

Kado, a travel buddy of Bernard Kilpatrick, allegedly was slinging bribes early in Kwame Kilpatrick’s tenure. From the indictment:

“In and between about 2001 and 2002, Kwame Kilpatrick obtained a number of cash payments totaling at least $80,000 from Kado, knowing that, in return, Kado expected to receive favorable treatment on service contracts Kado sought or held at Cobo Hall.”

Kado’s lawyer labeled his client a victim of extensive and pervasive corruption inside City Hall. After cooperating with the feds,  Kado lost his contracts and the city stiffed him for $2.6 million, according to an insightful letter written by Kado’s lawyer two years ago.

“…individuals or companies who either had existing contracts with the City of Detroit, or who were bidding to obtain a contract with the city, were expected to provide some financial or beneficial consideration to city officials or employees to keep or obtain a city contract,” defense lawyer Christopher Andreoff wrote.

Andreoff also described his client’s “unmatched” cooperation with federal investigators probing City Hall Corruption.

From the letter:

“I can say unequivocally that the degree and extent of (Kado’s) cooperation has been unmatched. He did so knowing full well that his business interests would be harmed and that he would face great retaliation by individuals in power when his cooperation was unveiled.”

Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas

Kwame Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer James C. Thomas suggested he will attack Kado’s credibility by raising doubts about his mental state. Kado is suffering from dementia, Thomas told jurors during opening statements.

Though the reason is unclear, Kado had a seeing-eye FBI agent walk him through the courtroom Friday pointing out the jury box, the defense table and the judge’s bench.

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