DETROIT (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick conspired with his father and best friend to turn City Hall into a den of bribes and kickbacks, a prosecutor said Friday as jurors heard opening statements in Kilpatrick's corruption trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow gave jurors a 40-minute overview of what they'll see and hear in the months ahead. He said Kilpatrick was an enthusiastic rising star in Michigan politics who moved from the state Legislature, then enriched himself with hundreds of thousands of dollars by muscling contractors, fooling political supporters and rigging city business.
"This was not politics as usual," Chutkow said. "This was extortion, bribery, fraud. … They broke their oath to serve this city. It was the citizens of the city of Detroit who were left holding the short end of the stick."
Kilpatrick — who quit office in 2008 in an unrelated scandal and eventually served more than a year in prison for a probation violation — is charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion, bribery, fraud, false tax returns and tax evasion. His father, Bernard, also is on trial, along with the ex-mayor's best friend, Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit water boss Victor Mercado.
Chutkow described how Kilpatrick deposited more than $200,000 in cash in his bank account and paid his credit card bills with another $280,000 in cash.
"He no longer lived like the citizens he governed," the prosecutor said, noting luxurious travel and custom-made suits.
Kilpatrick, who faces more than 10 years in prison if convicted, has declared his innocence. Defense attorney James Thomas repeated it for jurors in his opening statement but didn't specifically address the large sums of money outlined by the government.
Thomas called the government's case a "scam."
"The government has charged a racketeering conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink. … You're going to learn about politics," Thomas said. "Politics is like making sausage. You know it's not pretty; it's messy. But once it's cooked, it tastes pretty good."
The government's evidence will include text messages, undercover video and testimony from as many as 10 people who have pleaded guilty in the investigation.
Some were Kilpatrick's closest allies at City Hall, including former Deputy Mayor Kandia Milton, former executive assistant DeDan Milton and former chief administrative officer Derrick Miller.
This isn't Kilpatrick's first brush with the law. His 14-month prison term for a probation violation followed a 2008 conviction for lying from the witness stand about an extramarital affair, a relationship revealed in sexually explicit text messages.
Outside the downtown courthouse, the city Kilpatrick left behind in 2008 seems to be in a perpetual crisis. Detroit's population has fallen significantly. An emergency manager has taken control of the public schools. Police officers work 12-hour shifts and have been hit with salary cutbacks.
The current mayor, Dave Bing, said he doesn't have much interest in the trial.
"I don't have time for that," he said last week while celebrating the rebirth of the city's century-old aquarium.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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