DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Prosecutors went right to the money in the first day of evidence in the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Internal Revenue Service agent Ronald Sauer was the first witness to take the stand on Monday. He said the government traced more than $500,000 in transactions, beginning when Kilpatrick became mayor.
Kilpatrick is charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and a racketeering conspiracy. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick, Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson and the city’s former water boss Victor Mercado are also on trial in Detroit federal court.
“He showed a paper trail from 2001 to 2008 of cash deposits to various Kilpatrick accounts of about $282,000,” WWJ Newsradio 950’s Vickie Thomas. “Now, the one interesting thing that did come up in cross-examination, Jim Thomas, Kilpatrick’s attorney, was able to get the agent to admit that, even though those transactions took place, there were no ties to Bobby Ferguson’s financial records. So, they couldn’t make that paper trail work out in that particular case.”
Next to take the stand was Jerome Robinson who, from 2004 to 2010, worked as a customer service representative at a First Independence Bank branch in downtown Detroit.
Robinson testified that Kilpatrick would usually make his credit card payments in cash, pulling as much as $3,000 from his pocket in $50 and $100 bills. Robinson said Kilpatrick once made a cash payment of $15,000 on a loan at the bank.
Money in a shoe became the focus of testimony later in the day.
One of three former member of Kilpatrick’s Executive Protection Unit to take the stand was Chad Smith, who worked on the team from 2001 to 2003.
Smith testified that the then-Mayor sent him to his home on Leslie Street to get $1,500 from a shoe in the closet. He said he was directed to deposit the money into Kilpatrick’s account at First Independence Bank.
Kilpatrick’s attorney, James Thomas, said that if both Kilpatrick and his wife were working they would be able to accumulate money that they could keep under a mattress or, in this case, in a shoe.
An other member of the EPU to testify was Sgt. Jefferson Travis, who was asked if there was a party at the Manoogian Mansion.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Jefferson said.
The judge asked that the prosecutor move on.
The Kilpatricks are accused of shaking down contractors who wanted business or favors from Detroit city hall. The government calls it the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”
All four defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion. Kilpatrick was mayor until fall 2008 when he resigned in the unrelated text-messaging scandal.
The trial is expected to last four months, stretching into 2013.
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