Observations After Week 1 of Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Corruption Trial

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo
By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit
DETROIT –– Observations from the federal courthouse on Lafayette Blvd.:

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is still managing to muster a smile after a week of his public corruption trial. And yes, he’s looking rather dapper, some days wearing a bow tie, others a traditional one.

That being said, the government had the upper hand during the first two days of testimony this week. The last two days went to the defense.

On the first two days of testimony — there was no court on Tuesday because of a Jewish holiday — the government scored points, establishing through bank records, that Kilpatrick suddenly became cash-flush as mayor, depositing more than $500,000 in cash in the bank beyond his salary, from 2002-2008. That helped lay a foundation for the feds, who have alleged that the mayor had no obvious source of cash and got the money through bribes and kickbacks, in part, by rigging city contracts to help his friend, contractor Bobby Ferguson land lucrative contracts.

Kilpatrick’s attorney, Jim Thomas, while cross examining an IRS agent about the cash, suggested that maybe Kilpatrick got legitimate cash gifts. In fact, Thomas mentioned that wealthy businessman Don Barden at a Kilpatrick birthday announced he was giving Kwame $5,000 right on the spot, and invited others do the same. (It wasn’t clear whether it was a check or cash).

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