Kwame Kilpatrick Trial Closing Arguments: Day One (page 3)
The prosecutor shows a text between Kilpatrick and Ferguson saying, “Let’s get us some money.” Another text details where to find $7,500 in a closet.
12:30 p.m.: The defendants filed back into the room after lunch, and a podium was set up so the attorneys could speak directly in front of the jury.
“Full house,” someone says at the microphone, and the room laughs. The courtroom and media room are packed.
The federal prosecutor launches right in, saying of the former mayor and his cohorts: “They turned the mayor’s office into Kilpatrick Incorporated, a private for-profit machine.”
He pointed out incidents where Bobby Ferguson’s high bid won the contract, and brought up texts on a big screen that alluded to Ferguson and Kilpatrick working together to rake in cash.
“He had bodyguards going with him everywhere he went, he had staff at his beck and call … But that wasn’t enough,’ the prosecutor said.
“What mattered was (they) got paid,” prosecutor says.
He went on to discuss how Ferguson’s lavish office, with a spiral staircase, hardwood floors, and lavish “chilling room,” drew attention. He alleged Ferguson paid for it with public money and faked invoices to cover his tracks.
Kilpatrick appears to be listening intently as the prosecutor outlines accusations that non-profit money meant to benefit children was sidelined into a salary for Carlita Kilpatrick for a job that didn’t exist.
“The state arts grant money wasn’t the only money Kilpatrick stole,” the prosecutor said.
The judge began the day by praising the “extraordinary jury” who have not taken sick days, sometimes battled weather to get there, and have remained attentive. “No one can ever believe it,” Edmunds said about their unflagging dedication.
As Kilpatrick looked over sheets of paper and took notes, sometimes leaning his head on his arm, Edmunds started the day going over 75 pages of jury instructions, which included information like “the indictment is not evidence of guilt … It does not even raise suspicion of guilt.”
She urged them to use common sense, saying reasonable doubt does not mean beyond the shadow of a doubt. The judge also instructed the jury to use their own judgement and common sense to gauge the believability of witnesses.
“Do not base any decisions based only on the number of witnesses who testified,” the judge said, adding the number of charges is also not evidence of guilt.
The judge went over all the elements the jury has to decide in choosing guilt or innocence on more than 30 charges of extortion, bribery and mail fraud. She explained the elements of racketeering, saying the “enterprise” didn’t need organization, just acts that included Kilpatrick and at least one conspirator acting in a pattern.
In nearly 70 days of testimony, jurors in Edmunds’ courtroom heard about Kilpatrick allegedly getting bribes that were collected in the bra of longtime friend and fundraiser Emma Bell, they heard about civic funds allegedly getting diverted to pay for lavish trips, golf clubs, parties, and yoga lessons. There were allegations about the mayor’s wife Carlita Kilpatrick using a charity allegedly for children and seniors as a front to line the family’s pockets, money delivered in vacuum bags and in the bathroom of a Detroit Chinese restaurant.
As instructions started to wind down, the judge instructed the jury to not even discuss in deliberations the fact Kilpatrick did not testify in his own defense. “It is not up to the defendant to prove that he is innocent,” she said.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson are charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and racketeering conspiracy. The charges carry a possible penalty of 20 years in prison.
A few charges were dropped Friday in the interest of streamlining the case, according to the prosecutor U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
The complete charges are:
For Kwame Kilpatrick, one count of racketeering conspiracy: 20 years in prison; 8 counts of extortion: 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine; two counts of bribery: 10 years in prison, $250,000 fine; 13 counts of mail and wire fraud: 20 years, $250,000 fine; five counts filing false tax returns: 3 years and $100,000 fine; one count tax evasion: 5 years, $100,000 fine and the cost of the prosecution.
For Bernard Kilpatrick, the charges are one count of racketeering conspiracy: 20 years in prison; one count of extortion: 20 years, $250,000 fine; and two counts filing false tax return: 3 years and $100,000 fine.
Former Kilpatrick best friend Bobby Ferguson faces one count of racketeering conspiracy: 20 years in prison; eight counts of extortion: 20 years, $250,000 fine; two counts of bribery: 10 years, $250,000 fine.