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Column: Ex-Detroit Mayor Saw Friends, Supporters and Aides as Potential ATMs

Kwame Kilpatrick/deadline detroit

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Back in 1989 when I was reporter for The Detroit News I covered a federal trial involving Detroit 36th District Court Judge Leon Jenkins, who was accused of taking bribes to fix traffic tickets.

The FBI had him on video taking cash bribes from Sam Dickow, who owned a party store behind the Fox Theater. Dickow was cooperating with feds and let them install cameras in his store.

Miraculously, Jenkins got off. I was shocked. So were the FBI agents and prosecutors. It seems as if the jury felt he was entrapped.

During his trial, Jenkins, an amiable guy, was bumping into a very attractive secretary who worked in the courthouse. A romance blossomed and before you know it he was sending out wedding invites that included this: “Cash Gifts Appreciated.” At the time, I thought: How tacky. Is there no shame for a guy accused of bribery?

Fast-forward to the same courthouse 24 years later.

Kwame Kilpatrick, the ex-mayor of Detroit, is on trial for bribery and corruption and income tax evasion. In an attempt to explain the origin of the $500,000-plus in cash he deposited in bank accounts while mayor — and why his expenditures exceeded his city salary — his attorney Jim Thomas has suggested he got loads of cash gifts from generous friends and supporters who attended his birthday and wedding parties. The government claims the money simply came from bribes and kickbacks.

On Friday, Thomas, in an effort to try and save his client from going to prison for a long time, showed how shameless Kilpatrick could be.

He showed jurors a 1995 wedding invitation with a similar phrase to the one Leon Jenkins used: “Cash Gifts Preferred.” Kilpatrick wasn’t mayor yet, but that pattern of shameless solicitation carried over into his reign as the city’s top elected official.

To read more click here.


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