On Trial: Inside The Kwame Kilpatrick Case ( Blog #6)
Expensive hotel rooms. First class airline flights. Moving expenses. Rent. Water park tickets. And prestige summer camp for the kids. These are just a few of the expenses that the federal government have accused Kilpatrick of illegally billing to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, a nonprofit created by Kilpatrick to improve Detroit’s low income children and to educate city voters. The Kilpatrick Civic Fund was a 501(c) 4, a form of nonprofit organization that includes civic leagues, social welfare organizations and local associations of employees. Which mean that they could promote electoral or political activities but were not allowed to directly support specific candidates. Kilpatrick removed himself from a leadership role with the organization in 2001 before becoming mayor. However, U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow alleges that evidence exists to show Kilpatrick spent $159,000 from the fund on political endeavors, $195,000 on his family and friends and $200,000 on personal expenses between 2002 and 2008. Prosecutors allege Kilpatrick defrauded donors of the charity, which violated IRS tax laws.
Week three started on Tuesday, after a break from the Columbus Day holiday, with a bang. Brian Lang, operator of Spy Ops in Lathrup Village, Michigan, 20 minutes from downtown Detroit, testified in the corruption trial that a staff member for the Kilpatrick administration was his customer. Citing the “paranoia and distrust” that permeated Detroit City Hall’s upper-management in 2007, Lang says that the staffer wasn’t looking for equipment to spy, but to make sure others weren’t spying on Kilpatrick and other city leaders. Lang spoke about entering “some private elevators and back-ways” late one night to search for bugs in city offices at The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
By Wednesday, the sister of Kilpatrick’s ex-mistress and chief of staff, Christine Beatty may have hurt the former mayor with her testimony, telling jurors the Kilpatrick Civic Fund paid for summer camp for Kilpatrick’s children, a family water park trip, and rent and moving expenses for Kilpatrick following his resignation. April Edgar was the former mayor’s scheduler and half-sister of Beatty. Her testimony about numerous civic fund checks she co-signed after her sister resigned were written at the direction of either Kilpatrick or his sister Ayanna Kilpatrick, but she never felt she was doing anything illegal or unethical.
Testimony on Thursday suggests that Christine Beatty paid her own consulting company more than $110,000 in March 2008 with approvals from the mayor. The payments came after Beatty resigned as chief of staff when steamy text messages emerged showing she had a sexual relationship with Kilpatrick.
What went down this week that was powerful.
The government is introducing the complex case in the form of chapters; this chapter’s story line this week includes Kilpatrick’s unlawfully misused the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
The second chapter involved allegations that Kilpatrick steered a state grant meant for children and seniors to his wife and longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson.
The first chapter dealt with stories about hidden money and claims that Kilpatrick had a lot of cash in his bank account that couldn’t be traced to a source. All of the chapters are part of the government’s bigger story line that Kilpatrick; his father, Bernard Kilpatrick; Ferguson, and ex-city water chief Victor Mercado ran a criminal enterprise through the mayor’s office to enrich themselves. Criminal activity, the government says, started when Kilpatrick was a state legislator and escalated when he became mayor.
Until next week, @DarralynnHutson