By ED WHITE, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – The father of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wasn’t an extortionist but a sharp-elbowed consultant who did legitimate work for people who wanted business with the city, his attorney said Thursday during final arguments in the father-son corruption trial.
Witnesses said Bernard Kilpatrick leaned on them for cash because Kwame Kilpatrick had the power to kill or approve deals. But defense lawyer John Shea said there’s evidence to show the 71-year-old was engaged in the nitty-gritty details of public contracts for his clients.
“There’s nothing wrong with a consultant … calling up the mayor and asking for a meeting,” Shea told the jury. “Was it easier for Bernard Kilpatrick to get a meeting with his son? Absolutely. Maybe it’s unfair but it’s not illegal.”
The Kilpatricks and a third defendant, Bobby Ferguson, are charged with conspiring to enrich themselves through extortion, bribery and rigged contracts. The Kilpatricks are also charged with tax crimes.
Shea played the government’s secretly recorded conversations of Bernard Kilpatrick and a convention hall contractor discussing unpaid bills to the city. Shea said the elder Kilpatrick would only get paid if the contractor did.
The attorney also tried to soften the impact of a secret recording of Bernard Kilpatrick threatening to “blow up” a major sludge-hauling deal unless a company representative didn’t pay him. Shea said it was just angry talk.
Earlier in the trial, the government showed that Bernard Kilpatrick deposited $605,000 in cash in bank accounts over a seven-year period.
“He’s not guilty of these charges,” Shea said. “That’s what you’re here to decide, not whether he’s a saint. Canonization is not part of your deliberations.”
Prosecutors will give a final rebuttal Friday. It’s not known if deliberations will start Friday or Tuesday. Monday is a public holiday.
Kwame Kilpatrick resigned as mayor in 2008 in another scandal. He pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by lying in a civil case about whether he had had sex with a top aide. He subsequently served 14 months in prison for violating his probation in that case.
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