Robert Snell and Mike Wilkinson, Detroit News, November 17, 2011
Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and members of his so-called criminal enterprise threatened witnesses with violence, pocketed a $10,000 kickback in a restaurant bathroom and withheld city funds from firms that wouldn’t pay to play, according to explosive new allegations unveiled Wednesday.
The allegations were included in an updated racketeering conspiracy indictment against Kilpatrick and three others, including his friend and city contractor, Bobby Ferguson.
Prosecutors added seven money-laundering counts and an allegation of witness tampering against Ferguson on Wednesday, even as the FBI was raiding his Detroit office.
The 101-page filing provides a cinematic view of city officials and businessmen allegedly engaged in complex crimes, including money laundering and racketeering conspiracy.
The indictment also appears to rely on new information from ex-Kilpatrick aide and close friend Derrick Miller, a member of the “Kilpatrick Enterprise.” Miller reached a plea deal with prosecutors in September to cooperate against the ex-mayor.
Among the new allegations: Kilpatrick pocketed a $10,000 kickback hand-delivered by Miller inside a Detroit restaurant bathroom in fall 2007.
Another new allegation: Kilpatrick allegedly tried to strong-arm a company in 2002 that wanted to open a House of Blues restaurant at Ford Field.
During negotiations, according to the indictment, a city development official pressured a company official to hire the mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, as minority partner.
The firm, identified as “Company F” in the indictment, said no. So Kilpatrick withdrew the city’s support, according to the indictment.
In all, Kilpatrick banked $594,000 from the racketeering enterprise between 2002 and 2007, and he also took free flights worth more than $264,000 from vendors, prosecutors alleged.
They also charge that he got $159,000 in personal and political expenses paid by his nonprofit Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which was established to “better the community.”
Prosecutors also allege Kilpatrick demanded $286,500 in kickbacks from his political fundraiser, Emma Bell. She pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges last month and agreed to testify against the ex-mayor.
Money plays a central role in the new charges against Ferguson, who faces seven new counts. Prosecutors allege he extorted checks totaling $921,300 from two companies and deposited them in accounts he controlled in 2007.
Prosecutors said he took $451,304 of that money and opened a new account with Paramount Bank, deposited $301,304 and bought a $150,000 certificate of deposit.
The indictment accuses Ferguson of using his friendship with Kilpatrick, and the mayor’s bodyguards, to avoid trouble.
Prosecutors allege he and members of Kilpatrick’s security detail persuaded a Detroit police officer to drop charges that his company had dumped hazardous waste on city-owned land.
After Kilpatrick took office, Ferguson appeared in court in February 2002. He showed up with two members of Kilpatrick’s security detail, according to the indictment.
Ferguson confronted the officer in a hallway. Ferguson told him it would be in “the best interest” of the officer and others if he dropped the prosecution. Fearing for his safety, the officer dropped the charges, according to the indictment.