Witness talks about bra stuffed with cash kickbacks


Political fundraiser Emma Bell testifies Thursday about cash deliveries she made to Kwame Kilpatrick at the mayor’s office in amounts less than $10,000 at a time. (Illustration by Ray Stanczak / The Detroit News)

Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer tried to cast doubt on claims from a fundraiser that she gave the former mayor kickbacks stuffed in her bra.

Fundraiser Emma Bell earlier testified she met privately with Kilpatrick inside his office in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and handed him kickbacks.

“I don’t want to be indelicate, but you say you met him privately in the mayor’s office,” Kilpatrick defense lawyer James C. Thomas said. “Are you telling the jury that you took money out of your bra in front of him in a closed room and gave him cash?”

“I would take money out of my bra in front of my son,” Bell said.

Bell started to demonstrate how she dipped into her bra to deliver the kickback.

“It’s not like I was pulling my blouse up,” Bell testified. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“I would have never asked you to demonstrate, but now that you are, is that the fashion you did it in?” Thomas asked her. “I wonder if you had any uncomfortability in doing that?”

“Was I uncomfortable?” Bell asked. “No, sir.”

Bell’s bra purse is just one of the fundraiser’s hiding spots. She also hid cash in a can under her bed and stashed cashier’s checks under her mattress, according to testimony.

In all, prosecutors say Bell pocketed more than $900,000 in commissions from helping Kilpatrick raise money for his mayoral campaign, inaugural committee and purported charities.

Her fortunes plummeted after in 2008 amid the text-message scandal and Kilpatrick’s various legal woes as donors skedaddled.

In 2007, Bell was paid $278,222 in commissions.

The next year, her pay fell to $67,500.

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