Kwame Kilpatrick Trial Closing Arguments: Day One

By Christy Strawser

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) So it comes down to this: Both sides get a final chance to present their case today in the federal corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

A somber looking Kilpatrick settled in wearing a chocolate brown suit and dark tie before the 9 a.m. court day began, flanked by his co-defendants and more than a half dozen attorneys. Judge Nancy Edmunds spent two hours going over detailed jury instructions before closing arguments, which began at 12:30 p.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m.

The defense presents their closing arguments Tuesday morning.


2:20 p.m. Kilpatrick Incorporated was wrong and it was criminal, prosecutor Michael Bullotta said, summing up his case.

2:15 p.m.: And then there was Synagro … The wastewater company with the biggest contract in the case, $1.1 billion over 25 years, had to work within the Kilpatrick Enterprises system, prosecutor Michael Bullotta said.

Synagro’s James Rosendall testified that he attended a party at the Manoogian mansion where Kwame Kilpatrick introduced him to his father Bernard and said, ‘This is the guy I want you to work with.”

Answering machine tapes were played with Bernard Kilpatrick telling Rosendall in response to a vacation message: “I would appreciate a call today — Vacation or no mother*** vacation.”

A video was shown in court taken with hidden FBI camera where Bernard Kilpatrick scolds Rosendall for delivering cash to him in a public parking lot. “I don’t have three people in this city that I trust at that level, most people will not go under the bus for you,” Bernard Kilpatrick is heard saying.

2 p.m. Cleaning company owner Karl Kado, who worked at Cobo Center, testified that Kilpatrick would call and say “I have to see you,” and that meant he was supposed to arrive with $10,000 cash. Sometimes, Kilpatrick pal Derrick Miller would swing by and pick up the money himself, the prosecutor said. Kado also paid Bernard Kilpatrick between $200,000 and $250,000, the prosecutor said.

Mark Andre Cunningham, a close friend of Kilpatrick, was allegedly told he had to pay part of his commission for work with a private company that did work with Detroit to Bernard Kilpatrick. “No deal without me applied, even to Kwame Kilpatrick’s closest friends,” prosecutor Michael Bullotta said, adding Kilpatrick would sometimes ask Cunningham, “Have you taken care of my dad?”

1:45 p.m. “Walbridge is not playing ball,” one text message from Bobby Ferguson complained to pal Kwame Kilpatrick about firm Walbridge that refused to cut Ferguson in on a major project planned in Detroit. Despite pressure from Ferguson, they refused to give in and their bid was rejected, prosecutor Michael Bullotta said.

Trying to get work with the city of Detroit, businessman Johnson Akinwusi paid off $4,800 in suits Kilpatrick had on layaway at a place called Fashion International. He was then invited to bid on a project, the prosecutor said. Ferguson allegedly visited him after the bid process began and said his company needed to be cut in. Akinwusi agreed. “If I didn’t pay Bobby, the job would not go,” Akinwusi testified.

1:40 p.m. Inland Waters, a Detroit company run by Tony Soave, was also the victim of extortion, the prosecutor said. Soave found out Kilpatrick was holding onto his contract, costing him millions of dollars and putting his employees at risk of losing their jobs so he approached the mayor to figure out what was going on.

“You have the wrong subcontractor,” Soave said Kilpatrick told him, allegedly adding he needed to hire Bobby Ferguson. It was the first time Soave had heard Ferguson’s name, prosecutor Michael Bullotta said.

To save his workers and his company, Soave went along with it and hired Ferguson, he said, adding Ferguson wanted to be paid for no work. Bullotta said:  “It got so bad with Ferguson that Soave went to the mayor and asked ‘Is Ferguson still your guy?'” Kilpatrick’s answer? “Yes.”


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