A former state Senate leader testified Thursday about a state grant that ended up benefiting contractor Bobby Ferguson and Carlita Kilpatrick, wife of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Dan DeGrow’s testimony focused on summer 2000 when Kwame Kilpatrick was House minority leader. His testimony is aimed at addressing an allegation in the indictment that Kwame Kilpatrick and Ferguson defrauded the state out of more than $280,000 in grant money that was supposed to help children and seniors in the Detroit area.
DeGrow said Kwame Kilpatrick asked for money for two groups, including Detroit 3D, a nonprofit group controlled by Ferguson.
Detroit 3D gave $100,000 to a company, U.N.I.T.E., which was controlled by Carlita Kilpatrick, prosecutors allege. The money was supposed to be for teaching peer mediation to children.
Instead, Carlita Kilpatrick received $91,000 in salary, prosecutors allege.
From the indictment:
“Between October 2000 and April 2002, most of the $137,500 in State grant money given to U.N.I.T.E. was used for personal expenses for KWAME KILPATRICK and his wife, including $91,000 in salary to his wife, which, as KWAME KILPATRICK well knew at that time, was contrary to the purpose of the grant.”
Carlita Kilpatrick was not charged in the indictment.
Ferguson, meanwhile, spent about $100,000 renovating his company’s offices and repairing the roof, according to the indictment.
“Was the money you approved, in your view, permissible to be applied to pay for refurbishing of offices?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked DeGrow.
“No,” said DeGrow, who is how superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.
Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas asked DeGrow if it was unusual for a family member to work for somebody who received a state grant.
“I would say it’s unusual, yes,” DeGrow said.
Thomas asked if he was aware of former state Rep. Curtis Hertel asking for state funding for the Michigan State Fair, which was run by his brother John Hertel.
“I don’t recall Curtis asking for money but it wouldn’t stun me,” DeGrow said.
“Nothing further,” Thomas replied.
Ferguson lawyer Susan Van Dusen suggested some of the money spent refurbishing the contractor’s offices benefited the community because people learned skills working there.