Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and racketeering conspiracy. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick and Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson are also on trial in Detroit federal court.
Trial Update By Vickie Thomas
Dec. 10 – Dec. 14, 2012
A nasty fall by defense attorney Susan Van Dusen on Monday tripped up the trial this week and caused federal prosecutors to re-direct their focus on new allegation not detailed in the 100 page indictment.
Kathleen McCann kicked off the week as she resumed her testimony Monday. The former executive with Inland Waters spared with Van Dusen a bit during cross-examination. When Judge Nancy Edmonds called for a brief break Van Dusen tripped on the rug as she exited the courtroom. She fell face first on the marble floor injuring her nose. She was rushed to a local hospital. Edmonds called for a one day recess
to give Van Dusen a day to recuperate.
The trial resumed on Wednesday but Van Dusen is not expected to return to the courtroom until sometime next week. One of her colleagues tells me that at one point Van Dusen’s eyes were swollen shut, her hands and right knee were also swollen. Edmonds has given jurors frequent updates on Van Dusen’s progress.
EPA Agent Carol Paszkiewicz spent 4 days on the witness stand. She testified about text messages between then Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson that reveal they did discuss contracts and in one Ferguson ask Kilpatrick to hold up a contract for a long period of time.
While in negotiations with Inland Waters owned by business Mogul Anthony Soave on a Detroit water department contract, Ferguson sent Kilpatrick a text message that reads:
“What we need to talk about is that f%$#ing Soave.”
Paszkiewicz also detailed a spread sheet showing the millions of dollars Ferguson’s company was paid on work done under the Inland Waters contract including change orders. His attorney says Ferguson earned his pay by completely work on the projects, including emergency repairs resulting from a massive sinkhole on 15 mile in Sterling Heights.
Because of Van Dusen’s injuries, the prosecution has now moved to a new chapter in the trial related to new allegations stemming from the $7-million overhaul of Heilmann Recreation Center on Detroit’s eastside.
Johnson Akinwusi who owned J.O.A. Construction took the stand to detail more pay to pay allegations. He closed the company in 2007 after suffering a stroke.
Akinwusi testified that he made a $10,000 contribution to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund after the ex-mayor’s former chief of staff and lover, Christine Beatty asked him to give to the controversial non-profit. He also says he paid on a nearly $5,000 on a suit Kilpatrick had on layaway at a clothing store where both men shopped.
Akinwusi says the store owner suggested he pay the mayor’s tab and write a letter to Kilpatrick detailing work his company had performed. Akinwusi had complained about work drying up under the new Kilpatrick administration.
Shortly after that, Akinwusi testified that he received a bid package in the mail for the Heilmann Recreation Center. He was directed to partner with Xcel Construction owned by Bobby Ferguson.
Akinwusi said he doesn’t believe Ferguson earned the $161,000 he was paid for the project because he didn’t do any work or provide employees. On cross-examination by defense attorney Gerald Evelyn however, Akinwusi admitted he missed many of the project meetings and wasn’t on site much because he had 13 other projects going at the same time. Documents also show that Xcel workers were present at meetings.
Akinwusi also testified that he collected over $32,000 for Kilpatrick’s re-election campaign in 2005 after Ferguson dropped off envelopes to sub-contractors on the project containing an invitation to contribute. And while Akinwusi says he didn’t give anything, the others did because they wanted to continue to get work on city projects.
Quote of the Week: “There were suits in the lay-away for the mayor that he advised me to pay for.” Contractor Johnson Akinwusi on why he paid nearly $5,000 on the mayor’s suit.
Up Next: Johnson Akinwusi resumes his testimony