DETROIT (WWJ) – A judge in Detroit had denied a request by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to drop his attorney in a federal corruption case due to a conflict of interest.
Reporting from the courthouse, WWJ’s Florence Walton said both Kilpatrick and his longtime court-appointed defense lawyer James Thomas pleaded with Judge Nancy Edmunds to appoint a new attorney to the case.
Kilpatrick said he no longer trusts Thomas because Thomas failed to mention that he had represented Detroit businessman Gasper Fiore who was a potential witness in this case.
Thomas argued that his law firm is also involved in a separate lawsuit, concerning the Macomb County drain interceptor, which names Kilpatrick a defendant.
Kilpatrick insists that his relationship with Thomas has fractured.
“It is now at the point that we are no longer communicating and there has been a total erosion of trust and confidence,” wrote Kilpatrick, in an affidavit. “I do not know whether my attorney is protecting my interests or his interests. My last conversation with my counsel literally ended in a shouting conversation.”
Judge Edmunds, however, on Tuesday decided that it would be in the public’s best interest to go forward with this case and that she was not convinced there had been a total breakdown in communication between client and attorney.
Talking to reporters following the hearing, Thomas said he’s confident they can move forward.
“I love the guy,” said Thomas. “I mean, he’s been … just wonderful to be around and I’m looking forward to being at trial. I’m not gonna contradict the guy, you know. I told you I loved him.”
A 38-count indictment alleges corruption regarding city contracts totaling at least $100 million, involving racketeering conspiracy, extortion, fraud, bribery and tax evasion.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, pal Bobby Ferguson and ex-Detroit water boss Victor Mercado are all defendants.
The charges carry penalties ranging from three to 30 years in prison.
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