Emma Bell arrives to testify against former pal Kwame Kilpatrick
Updated On: Oct 04 2012 05:55:41 PM EDT
8:48AM It was all about Emma Bell yesterday and it looks like we are set to get a whole lot more.
Local 4 cameras were rolling Thursday morning as the ex-fundraiser for Kwame Kilpatrick walked into federal court in Detroit to testify against him.
Bell didn’t comment.
Once inside the federal courthouse, Bell rode the elevator up with IRS special agent Ron Sauer, the man who investigated Bell and who yesterday detailed her years of tax evasion, multiple cash transactions and gambling habits at Detroit casinos.
Bell seems nervous, but has a sweet smile for the security staff here checking her in
“She really is sweet. This is going to be a tough day,” said Bell’s attorney, Avery Bradley to Local 4 News.
Testimony on Wednesday by an Sauer revealed that between 2003 and 2008, Bell received a total of $904,051.19 from four Kilpatrick-related entities including Kilpatrick for Mayor, the Next Vision Foundation, Kilpatrick Inaugural Committee and the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
The government alleges that Bell kick backed more than $250,000 to Kilpatrick, essentially paying him 50% on any amount greater than $5,000.
Bell had initially told investigators that she split anything over $25,000 with Kilpatrick because she didn't want Kwame to appear "petty" in splitting smaller amounts.
Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas tried to poke holes in Bell's credibility by saying she didn’t file tax returns and insinuated Bell kept bank balances low to avoid triggering suspicion and had a drinking habit.
Oh, and possibly a little gambling problem too.
Bell plead guilty to tax evasion last year. She was sentenced to 18 months in jail but may see that amount reduced.
9:00AM Video still dark. We know court isn't in session yet but usually able to get a little peak of activity before things really get going. Anticipation that Emma Bell may be first witness today.
If Bell testifies this morning, she'll be the first co-operating witness to take the stand.
Bell arrived to the U.S. District courthouse this morning with her lawyer Avery Bradley who told Local 4 "She really is sweet. This is going to be a tough day.”
And we wait.
9:07AM Apparently, all the lawyers are having discussions with the judge about some preliminary issue in chambers. Thus the dark screens.
9:16AM Video finally turns on. First thing I see is Bobby Ferguson who from the video monitor looks like he is wearing a a brown leather jacket. Very slick.
Forgot to mention lawyers in sidebar with judge.
9:19AM Judge says to call jurors in.
Welcomes them in. Two things, first is that alternate #5 has been excused from the case. A male. Second thing, what is evidence and what is not. Perfectly ok to ask in cross-examination to put a fact in question. But that's not evidence. The witness's answer is. There is a lot of that type of questioning in this case. I want to stress this applies equally to prosecution and defense.
9:23AM Government calls Emma Bell.
Bell steps up to the stand. Wearing grey jacket, strand of pearls and black rim glasses. Never looked at Kwame on way to stand.
Mike Bullotta for government.
Bell grew up in Georgia. also lived in NY. Came to Michigan in 1971-72.
Bullotta asks how she is. There is water there for you.
Did you get in fund-raising. Involved with the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit. Former Mayor Coleman Young running for office and I volunteered to work for him. Help put on a Valentine Ball at Cobo Hall.
Over the years have worked for various politicians. Learned fund-raising on the job.
First really worked for was Bill Lucas who was sheriff and became a county executive.
Learned how to ask people for money.
Took job with bill Lucas in the 80s. she was an administrative aide. did community work and some fund-raising.
In 1990, worked as consultant with Wayne County Commissioner. Was Director of Public affairs with them for 10 years.
Met Kwame's mother Carolyn cheeks Kilpatrick and Bernard in the 1970s. In the Shrine of Black Madonna.
ell says she sees Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick in court.
Bell knows Kwame since 1971-72.
It was a good relationship with the family. Went to the same church. "We called it the struggle."
We had more of a relationship than through the church. Kwame not too much older than my son and his sister and we had a good relationship.
Bullotta asks about 2003. She did fund-raising for Kwame in 2003 with Kilpatrick for Mayor. Later, also Kilpatrick Inaugural committee and Kilpatrick Civic Fund. And later for the Legal Defense Fund.
Kilpatrick for Mayor was campaign funds. Inaugural Committee you can't take funds from city or campaign to do different projects like community balls and programs with kids. Celebrations of being elected and then being sworn on. She thinks this was at the Fox. The Inaugural Ball was either Winter Garden or Marriott.
Kilpatrick Civic Fund did things with cub scouts football team on northwest side, did things in different communities, get out the vote. Basically things to help the community. Helped raise funds towards the end.
Bell did not get paid at first. Got paid with Committee to Re-elect and the Inaugural. Initially, not paid for Civic Fund.
Kilpatrick for Mayor- worked with team of women, Go Van Inc, and 2 gentlemen. Mike Tardif and Xype. Mostly 4 or 5 women involved though.
Eventually became major fund-raiser for Kwame.
Raised money for Civic Fund. Event probably held maybe June or July. The Civic Fund is where corporations could give checks, held at hotel in Greektown. Most letters were not sent through US Post, mostly Evites via email.
Bell worked out of her home and office by Post Office. Had an office with the team. Go Van may have been in Livonia.
Had fax and Xerox machine at home.
Bullotta hands document to Bell. She says it's an Evite asking people to participate in the fund-raiser. First page is a fax transmittal form. Bell says either she or Angela Burris sent it. Letter attached to the fax and attached to that is what the Kilpatrick Civic Fund did. A description.
Bullotta submits evidence.
Fax sent to a Michael Narn with Chicago Equity Group- on June 19th 2008.
Another communication with Jeff Beasley, Treasurer for City of Detroit.
Got Narn's info from Beasley. Got info at an office in Greektown.
May 23rd, 2008- another letter inviting them to participate in an evening for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund Thursday June 26th event at the Antheneum Hotel and talks about contribution to give. Asks for between $1,000 and $10,000.
The document says OK $10,000.
Bullotta says do you recognize handwriting. No she says.
Bullotta says do you know what it signifies. Bell says I can't answer yes or no. I don't know whose writing it is. Sometimes if it was sent back, it would say ok I give 1k, 5k or 10k.
"I know this sounds really crazy but most of this stuff was kept right here."
"Sometimes took check at the door." Someone else took records other than Emma Bell (talking about herself in 3rd person.)
Christopher Jackson business person in Detroit. Probably Chair of the Civic Fund Committee for the year. Needed a name to put on the letter.
Bell says he was picked because he was a young business person. Picked some one who would be recognized for larger donation.
Letter went out by fax to person in Chicago.
Recognizes document about info on Civic Fund: "promote neighborhood activities to better community, provide info to Michigan residents about legislative, Detroit residents on voting, participate in activities to better image of Detroit and northwest, support crime prevention in northwest Detroit.
Also in Document: sponsored get out the vote rallies, co-sponsored charity little league football on northwest side of Detroit, contributing to seminars on economic development and empowerment, Civic fund active in improving lives of people in Detroit "none of the money goes to any political campaign."
William Phillips says Bell was a young attorney in city of Detroit. He provided backup info to Bell on Civic Fund
9:51AM Bullotta asks about Nicole Sodko who worked for Phillips. A paralegal.
Asks about checks. Bell says sometimes came by mail or night of event. Bell says checks would be Xeroxed and taken to the office. Xerox was for the records.
Bell would give checks to Sodko. Office was in the Ren Cen. Sodko would come downstairs so either Ball or driver would give them to her. Bell doesn't drive so Burris was the driver.
Bell didn't deposit checks. Gave them to Sodko.
Bullotta asks how she was paid. Bell said she was paid 10 to 15% of what was raised. A commission.
Bullotta says I want to take you back to August 2003.
Shows Bell government exhibit EB 6.
Shows her $100,000 check payable to her from Kipatrick for Mayor from July 30 event. Bell doesn't remember if it was for a fund-raiser.
First time she was paid for a fund-raising event.
Bullotta says do you know who gave it to you. Either Kwame or Christine Beatty.
Bell says her checks either came from the treasurer, Mr. Terrell, or Beatty or Kilpatrick.
On the first check, Bell talked to Kwame to thank him. "He said I was welcome and I'll see you later."
Kwame and Bernard very intent on her testimony.
Bullotta says what else did he say. "He asked if I had something for him."
"It's not easy for me to be here sir. Not easy to answer question like that. Just wasn't easy. Based on my relationship not just with him but his family."
Bullotta had asked why it was taking her so long to answer.
Bullotta asks what did he mean. Bell says that I would come back with something for him, a package, money, money from Kilpatrick for Mayor.
Did that surprise you? Yes sir.
Did anyone else ever ask that of you? No sir.
Bell says she took to it to First Independence Bank. One was in Greektown and the other in Michigan Ave.
Bell did not put the 100k in her account. Bell says she got cashier's checks. Could only take 10k out.
"The reason is I have a serious IRS problem." on why she could only take 10k.
Talks about program that other people in courtroom were involved on, in the Youth Entitlement Program, were you were supposed to pay your own taxes. She did not do that.
Bell says she never caught up on taxes over the years. Owes some money to IRS- owes about $300,000.
"If it was $3 sir I could pay it today" says Bell when Bullotta ask if the 3 she answered was $3 owed to IRS.
Bell says she didn't want IRS to find out about money because she had a lien on her account at First Independence Bank.
Bell gave Kwame part of that first check. Bell asks to back up. Bullotta says sure.
Bell says she was once on Zoning Board for Detroit and IRS deducted from that as well.
On the 100k, got cashier's checks took the money home and put them in a can under the bed or would put it under the mattress.
Bell says she would either go back successively on days to get 10k from bank. They were made out to Emma Bell.
She eventually got cash from her cashier's checks.
Bell thinks she paid Kwame maybe 40 or 50 thousand.
Bullotta says did you give it all at once. Bell says she couldn't do that. Had to keep going to bank.
Bell would either got to the office or home of Kwame to give money.
Angela Burris mostly drove her to locations for money giving. Bell would call secretary Iris O'hana and ask if Kwame was there that "I needed to come over for a minute."
Burris would sit outside in a car. Bell would carry money in purse, pocket or bra. Bell carried mostly 100s some 50s but mostly 100s.
Exhibit EB 7- Bullotta asks if she recognizes documents. Yes photos of Mayor's office area.
Picture of entrance to Mayor's office on overhead. Glass door entrance to office. Second photo shows Iris's desk- around the corner is mayor's office.
Next photo, mayor's office, conference room and room with barber's chair.
When Bell would go to office, if sometimes other people would go, she'd go to the side office with barber chair to wait. When they would meet, the outer door was typically closed. Kwame would close it. Mayor would close the door. The barber chair was located in the middle of the room.
They would both sit in the barber chair and she would give him the money. Sometimes would hand bank envelopes or bigger envelopes. Would typically give him anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 and "he would put it in his pant pocket."
Bell says they met quite a few times, enough for "what I was supposed to do."
Last photo is the Mayor's office now- Bell says it didn't used to look like that.
Bell doesn't know total amount. Was it more than 100k?
"I don't know the exact amount but I know it was more than 100k, I know it was more than 200k."
Bell says sometimes Betty called to tell her to pick up her check. Went to the city county building to pick it up. Apologizes for being old school, it's the Coleman Young building.
Bullotta says you made multiple payments on some of the checks? Yes sir.
Bullotta shows her EB 6- $85,000 payment on June 8th 2006. She got $9,747.47 in cash and the balance in cashier's checks: $75,252.53. Made payments to Lyndsey Linens, Rent-A-Center, Terry's Enchanted Garden and The Display Group (props). All those were event costs.
The rest of the cashier's checks made out to EB: one for 20k and 4 for 10k.
Bullotta shows Bell another transaction from September 19th 2007- $15,000 from Kilpatrick Civic Fund. took 4k in cash and 11k in cashier's checks.
Bullotta asks did you give any of this money to Kwame Kilpatrick? Bell seems to struggle to remember.
Bullotta offers to show a more detailed spreadsheet.
10:24AM: Bullotta shows EB 6A.
Bell thinks she gave Kwame $5,000 or $6,000.
Bullotta asks did you know that that money you were giving was coming from fund meant to help Detroit kids? Yes sir.
Bullotta: Did it bother you? Bell: "It did but I took it. I was owed it for fund-raising."
Bullotta: Why did you do it? Bell: "Hard to answer but I did it sir."
Judge calls for 10 minute break.
Everyone stands up. Bell gets up from stand, walks around to prosecution, stops briefly to talk to government. Kwame watching her the whole time, intently. As she passes Kwame on her way out the room, they lock eyes and it looks for a split second like they might talk or hug. Moment passes and she's out the door without a word.
10:43AM On her way out of courtroom, Thomas stopped Bell. Told her he respected her. She said "Thank you sir."
Seems Bobby Ferguson's leather jacket isn't keeping him warm enough in the courtroom. "It's cold in there!" he told Local 4. Said he was going to have to get some gloves.
Bernard and Kwame were clustered outside the courtroom with their lawyers, talking very seriously. Bobby was joking in the hallway, probably happy to be out of the hot seat today.
Not sure what Victor Mercado is up to.
10:52AM Emma Bell takes the stand again after break.
Bullotta asks if Bell ever told Kwame about tax problems? Bell says everyone in the city knew she had a tax issue. Kwame knew she had a tax issue.
Bullotta asks if she ever got a 1099 form from Kwame? No says Bell.
Bullotta asks if received one at other places of work? Yes sir.
Do you know Bobby Ferguson? Yes sir.
What's a 1099 form? Bell says it's a form for taking out taxes. Comes from record keeper or treasurer.
How do you know Bobby Ferguson? Pause. Met him through the Kilpatricks but I knew his father. I knew him from work in the city. He was a great man (Bobby's father).
Bell says Bobby Ferguson was nice to me when Kwame was mayor. Still nice to me. Has always been nice to me.
Bell says she received money from bobby Ferguson. Says it was Bobby's came from the bank.
Bell thinks it was a check.
"Can I say something sir to be clear? Bobby is the kind of person that if he likes you... He called me mom." Bell says other young people called her mom.
Bell doesn't know how Bobby got subcontracts with city.
Bell pleaded guilty to 2 counts tax evasion.
Exhibit EB 8 introduced. Bell looks at it. Bell says she signed plea agreement with her lawyer. Under sentencing guildelines, looking at 18 to 24 months in prison.
Bullotta says government recommending to Edmunds nothing over 18 months. If she co-operates, could get 9 to 12 months. Judge Edmunds decides it. Maximum for each count is 5 years, so could have been 10.
There is tax loft $334,00 that she needs to pay in restitution.
"I played the slots sir." when asked about gambling.
Bell says she'd go to Greektown. With $500 to $1,500.
"In the casino you think every machine is lucky but it's not."
Sometimes a dollar slot, sometimes pennies, sometimes 5.
How do you win the slot? Bell says you go in, put your money. If you win, sometimes it might blink, you pull your ticket out. Nost peolpe pull ticket out of machine then supposed to put it in your purse and save it. "But me I put it back in."
Do you still call it the one arm bandit? Yes sir.
Bell says sometimes you could stay 2, 5 or 8 hours. worse than playing lottery.
Bell says she would recycle money and put it back in machine.
Shows her gambling records. Bell requested records of gambling for herself.
Bell explains gambling money numbers. Bell says the 170k numbers not correct. Possibly a Greektown employee better equipped to explain. Says she never walked in with these huge sums.
Bullotta says could that be all the coins you put in that you rotated?
Thomas objects. Judge overrules.
Bell says that's what it's called, recycling.
Bell says she is positive she never walked in more than $1,500. You would never take 10k to gamble. She said maybe 2k but not money like that.
11:07AM Jim Thomas cross examines.
Thomas says we just met a minute ago.
"Bell says we met before sir."
Never talked about this case though? Oh no.
Thomas says fund-raising your job. Yes sir.
Since 1980, main source of income? No I worked for Wayne County sir. A consultant at first.
Bell says in NY, she did "knock and drop", was a volunteer. Worked at B. Altman's. Never worked as a fund-raiser.
Thomas wants to know when she first got into politics.
Shrine of Black Madonna a very activist Church. Yes sir.
Bell says she didn't become fund-raising consultant until working for Mr. Lucas. Worked to get him elected county Executive.
Thomas says work with judges... Bell says she would ask for donations to their campaigns.
As political consultant did job change? Bell says ask again.
Maybe it's no different sir. Bell says she wasn't called a fund-raiser when helping the judges. she was just a person who helped to get them elected.
For a fee? did I get paid by the judges? Some people were my friends and they didn't pay me. One judge paid me because I worked with a team.
Payment depends. Some people pay 5%, or 10% or 15%.
Bell says at the time Bill Lucas was elected as a Democrat.
Thomas says did you have a hard time getting work after that? "Not as hard as I'm having now."
Bell had just left Wayne County when she went to work with Kwame. Worked with Wayne County in the nineties. First worked for Mr. Kilpatrick, did volunteer stuff in 2000. Received funds for being consultant in 2003. That check that Mr. Bullotta referenced.
In 2000-2001, Burris worked for her.
Bell says Burris was her secretary at county.
Bell says that when she worked with Kilpatrick, she worked for other charities but it was mostly volunteers.
Thomas says so most of your income came from Kilpatrick entities? Yes says Bell.
Thomas wanted to get to point that sole source of income 2003-2008 was from Kilpatrick-related entities? Yes but also had money saved.
Money saved in a can and under the mattress.
Didn't get a retirement check from Wayne County but got a severance amount.
"Yes I can say that the bulk of my money from 2003-2008 was from the different Kilpatrick entities."
The severance amount for Bell for Wayne County wasn't over 40k.
Bell had been having IRS issues "since Jimmy Carter days".
Thomas says there were liens against you? Yes sir.
Thomas says you were worried about money in the bank because government would get it? Yes sir.
Thomas asks if even before 2003 she was converting checks to cash and putting bthem in mattress? No sir.
Thomas says you worked hard as consultant? Yes sir.
Were you the primary for Kilpatrick for Mayor and the Inaugural Committee? No sir it was a team. Including a woman by the last name Mitchell that I see on TV every Sunday.
With the 1st Inaugural was with Conrad Mallett and second year was with Muirhead says Bell.
Thomas says Kwame participated? Came to fund-raising events? Yes.
Met people you were soliciting funds from? Bell says someone who is going to be an elected official doesn't go out and meet with each person. Gives them maybe a phone call.
Without Kwame would you have raised as much money? No sir.
When you go to an event people don't give Kwame money? No sir.
Thomas says do people try to ingratiate themselves with mayor? Yes sir.
Is it fair to say Kwame doesn't make promises for money? Yes sir.
Who gathers checks? Whoever works the door. If I was working the door. there could be 2 or 3 people working the door. One was Burris. sometimes 3 to 4 people working the door.
Burris was secretary from County days and she is a friend says Bell.
Burris didn't have anything to do with cash? No sir.
Thomas says that was for her work? Yes for her work and back pay.
Thomas says you kept from her what was going on with you and Kwame? "From most people, all people."
Bell looks at document. A fax to Michael Nairne. Thomas asks who is Patti? Couldn't tell you says Bell.
The 10k inquired about at the bottom.
Thomas says tell jury about process. Thomas says generally your job was to call people and get money. Yes says Bell.
Thomas says did you ever have to call and remind people about money commitments? Yes sir.
Was that your job/ Yes sir.
How did you find out how much money was raised? Bell says like with Kilpatrick for Mayor, I could look back on what was collected at the door. But normally Miss Beatty knew the records.
Looks at 2nd page of document. Description of Civic Fund. Party on June 26th 2008 at hotel in Greektown.
Thomas says what was name of party? It was for Kilpatrick Civic Fund sir, says Bell.
Not for Splash of Red, just for Civic Fund? Yes.
How many attended? Don't know sir.
Bell says it was on the first room when you walk into the hotel, the Aphrodite room in the Athenaeum.
Thomas says lets talk about William Phillips, lawyer for Civic Fund? Yes.
Bells says Terrell was CPA for Kilpatrick for Mayor, don't know about Civic Fund.
Bell says for Civic Fund I got funds, did not solicit funds.
Thomas and Bell go over the goal of the Civic Fund on document on overhead.
Do you know what can be done with 501 c4 relating to advertising, they can't be specific to vote for Kilpatrick? I understand that sir says Bell.
Thomas asks Bell if she needs a moment. No I'm ok.
Thomas asks about separate office for fund-raising in Greektown? We used Mr. Pappas office for initial meetings. If i needed to go, I could. but it wasn't the office. We would go to Phillips's office.
Thomas says why separated from mayor's office? Because against the law to do it from mayor's office.
Burris would drive you? Yes sir.
She would drop her off and you would go in? Yes sir.
And she didn't know where you were going?
In 2008, you weren't involved with Mr. Lucas? No sir. But I was on Zoning Board and I gained 15 or 16 thousand. Met weekly. This ended first day I came to court on this case. I resigned the next week in 2010.
Thomas says Kwame Kilpatrick is mayor and has lots of responsibilities? Yes sir.
Thomas says was he busy? Very much so sir.
Thomas says his style of leadership, did you observe his delegating skills? Yes sir.
Would you agree authority delegated to you as fund-raiser? Yes sir.
Thomas says you indicated you dealt with Betty? Yes sir.
Was important to you to know how much money was raised? yes sir.
Thomas and Bell talk over each other. Judge asks Bell to wait to answer questions.
Thomas says involvement in day to day activities in these funds was diminished? Yes sir.
You didn't get along with Phillips, right? Yes sir.
Thomas says he was very, very jealous of the position on the fund? Yes sir.
As a result you didn't interact much with him? Yes sir.
Thomas wants to ask what it was Kwame asked her. There were events were they raised in excess of a million dollars. Yes sir.
the event where you made a 100k, was more than 1. 2 million? Could be.
Thomas says 100k appropriate for you? Yes sir. Never asked for more.
Thomas says you never negotiated your percentage with Kwame? Bell says it was wither Kilpatrick or Beatty.
There were some things I did where Kilpatrick said what I got, says Bell.
But not on this particular 100k? No sir.
Thomas asks he never said I want half or any specific amount? No sir.
Your situation at bank, FIB, there was a woman who allowed you to take money from check and cash that for cashier's checks? Bell said she was the bank assistant manager. she's the one I mostly dealt with.
Thomas says hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yes says Bell.
Thomas says this banking process is something you did prior to involvement with Kwame? No sir.
When you started working with them is when you learned about CTRs? That's when I started going to First Independence says Bell.
Thomas says you'd avoid having large amounts of money in account? Yes sir.
Thomas says you did this a long time before Kilpatrick? Yes sir.
This was to avoid the government taking your money? Yes sir.
Thomas inaudible. Maam? he asks.
I don't know what congressional Democratic....says bell.
D EB 8 and 9 introduced into evidence.
Bell says I didn't know it was called 15 congressional district Democrats. It was an event that was some place closed now.
Thomas says were you aware of a transaction report on you? I don't recall says Bell. Please tell me.
Thomas says you would have been aware of these reports filed on you? Bell says that is the first time I ever see one of those sir.
Did you know that wasn't just a one time deal, that amount of money you accumulate over a year can be no more than 10k? No sir.
Did agent Sauer tell you that? No sir. He went over the chart with me though.
You met with them March 12th, 18th...2010, all in the same year? Yes sir.
Appeared before grand jury as well? Yes sir.
Bell says I don't remember exact dates but do remember meeting with them.
You met with them upwards of 10 times? Yes sir.
When you first met them you had no idea of amounts of money? Yes sir.
It wasn't until Ron Sauer told you. Bell says he didn't tell me. It was a chart.
It was an important day for you. "It was a bad day for me."
You knew you were in trouble. "I knew I was in trouble long before then sir."
Thomas says your memory affected by documents he is showing you. Yes sir.
Thomas says never in there is there a trail going to Kilpatrick? Sir there wouldn't be.
Thomas says you say so. Bell says she said so because it was so.
Thomas says you knew you were committing for over 20 years. Yes so.
Thomas says you never kept Kilpatrick-related entities money to pay IRS but to keep for yourself? yes sir.
Thomas says you didn't pay. No I didn't pay.
Even though you committed a crime and you could have paid. You went to the casino. "That's what you say sir" says Bell.
Thomas says you had a gambling problem right? Long pause. Yes sir.
Judge calls for break.
12:19PM Court back in session.
Thomas grabs documents to continue questioning. Asks government about a chart.
Thomas says looking at exhibit EB 6, page 4. Summary of money in: breakdown of more than $904,000 between 2003-2008. Same chart that was presented yesterday.
Thomas says when you got checks you wouldn't cash them right away? Yes sir.
Because you didn't want to have large sums of cash? Yes sir.
You didn't tell Sauer a specific amount? No.
Your income was estimated with Sauer based on money received. Yes sir.
Thomas says "Are you telling the jury you took money out of your bra" in the mayor's office? "I would take money out of my bra in front of my son".
Thomas says you're telling jury you took money off your person to give money? "It's not like I pulled off my blouse."
Bell demonstrates by lifting up her blouse slightly.
In 2003, you generated 119k? yes. In 2004, $131,325? yes.
In 2005, only $52,004.20. Lower why? As I recall says Bell it was during 2nd election and it was harder at that point.
Bell says money is under the bed.
In 2006, better year with $256,000.24. Yes sir.
Bell says many people didn't think he'd get re-elected. He fooled everybody says Thomas referring to re-election.
In 2007, $278,221.75. Yes sir.
In 2008, Kwame had a very difficult year with text scandals so only generated $67,500. Yes sir.
Thomas asks if after involvement with Kilkpatricks did you continue to gamble yes sir? I had that income, other consulting work, from Social Security, income from resigning from zoning board (about 15k).
Thomas says you didn't gamble all your money? No I couldn't gamble it all because I shared my money says Bell.
Do you recall your gross bets? Looking at gambling chart. As I said says Bell I disagree with those amounts.
Thomas says these are your gambling records. Just talking about gross wagers. Bell says are they saying I lost that or won that.
Bell says I did not gamble 170,000 thousand. Bell says it's on paper.
Judge interjects. Thomas says you could explain again to the witness. Thomas says I'm trying to lead her through it judge, please allow me to continue.
Thomas says those are the wagers, no reason to disagree with that. Yes.
Thomas says you subtract the amount you win and you come up with the money you won or lost that year.
$15,924 that you lost over the year in 2003, right? Long pause. Yes.
Thomas says would you agree that you are more likely to be spending time at the casino when you had money? Bet more when you have money in your can underneath your bed? Bell sometimes you feel lucky sir and sometimes you don't.
Bell says I would have to be worried because I have bills to pay.
Thomas says would you agree that the fatter you are in terms of money, the more likely your are to gamble. Yes.
Can we infer from your gambling activity on any day, whether you have money. Yes sir. Bell sounds tired and a little defeated.
In 2006, she put in play $569,868.34 at the casino. Yes says Bell.
In 2007, does your gambling increase asks Thomas? Yes sir.
Did you lose in 2006, more than 39k? Yes sir.
In 2007, more than $63,000? Yes sir.
In 2008, gross wages was $803,022 waged and $82,875 lost. Yes sir.
Thomas says you are betting more at the casino than you've got. Fair statement. Yes says Bell.
Thomas says money is certainly not on paper, but you had money under the bed.
Thomas says we are talking about 2008. Going to change subject. Do you remember Splash of Red Party?
Bell says it was his birthday. "He had a beautiful party."
In 2006, he had a party for his birthday. Bell says it was packed..
Thomas says do you remember don Barton putting money in a box? Yes.
Bell says I remember people going up to Kwame to say happy birthday. Saw a few putting money in the box.
Bell could hear Barton soliciting people to put money in box.
Could you hear talk about giving 5k? "I did but he often said things that he wouldn't do."
Thomas says you know he's dead right? Yes I know he's dead.
Thomas says you agreed to plea agreement filed on October 3rd 2011? Yes sir.
This came after 10 or more meetings with government? Bell says I'll be honest I can't remember how many.
Thomas counts them up: 9.
Bell says she last met with government on Monday or Tuesday.
Thomas asks how many times this year? Bell says i met with them but couldn't tell you how many times.
Bell says government would never tell me what to say.
Maam says Thomas you said that agent Sauer talked to you. Bell says he showed me a chart, that was my life.
Thomas says you knew you were implicating yourself in an offense that you may never come out of jail for. Yes says.
Thomas says did you see on paper that your statutory maximum was 5 years? Yes.
Did you know that you'd be sentenced to guidelines? Yes sir.
Did you know it was 18 to 24 months? Yes sir.
Thomas says that you would have to go to jail? that's clear sir.
Prison says Thomas. You see prison as a much more serious place than jail? Yes sir.
Thomas says you don't want to go to prison? Yes sir.
Thomas says you have a hope that after your testimony that the judge may not send you to jail. "That's my hope and prayer."
Thomas says so are you asking for God's intervention.
Thomas says you are aware that if the government is not happy with your testimony than they don't have to reduce your sentencing guideline?
12:54PM Bullotta redirects.
Bell says "Only 2 people in this room other than God that know what happened. And that's me and Mr. Kilpatrick."
Bullotta asks did we tell you what to say? No sir.
Do you know how many times you met and it was over 200,000 thousand? Yes sir.
Bullotta says when you met him you only paid 8 to 10 thousand. Yes sir.
Audio issues can't hear everything.
Bell says I gave him different amounts. Once it was on November 27th, my birthday.
12:57PM Thomas redirects.
Bell says I've been to Kwame's house sir.
Were his family and EPU there?
How many times did you meet him?
Thomas says you went to the office at least 18 times or more?
Bell says I could do that because I was his fund-raiser.
Thomas says you went 18 times to give him cash. Bell answers slowly and annoyed: YES SIR.
Thomas says you went through EPU? Bell says I'd call Iris and did not have to go through EPU.
Thomas says wasn't EPU there? Bell says I didn't have to tell them why I was there.
But weren't they there?
Bell says the prosecutor will not be sentencing me.
You lied to agent Sauer first time you met him? Yes I did.
You committed a federal crime? Yes.
1:01PM Bullotta redirects.
Why did you change statements? Because when I talked to my attorney, he said if you don't tell the truth, I can't work with you. I went home and was so nervous for my life. So I called Bradley.
Bell's voice cracking.
"It is very hard for me to talk about Mr. Kilpatrick and my word against his."
You didn't want to make him look greedy says Bullotta.
1:03PM Thomas redirects.
Didn't you say petty? Was it petty or greedy? Bell is crying.
Thomas asks incredulously you thought you were helping Kwame Kilpatrick by increasing money you gave him to not seem petty?
Thomas says would you answer my questions. Stop playing with papers.
Bullotta objects saying he is argumentative. Judge sustains.
Judge adjourns court.
As was widely anticipated, government witness Emma Bell testified in court today. Bell told a rapt courtroom how she paid former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick kickbacks in his office from money stuffed in her bra.
Bell is the first cooperating witness to testify in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial.
She plead guilty to tax evasion last year and signed a plea agreement with the government. Under sentencing guidelines, Bell is facing 18 to 24 months in prison but the government may opt to reduce that amount by half after her testimony.
Under questioning by U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta, Bell recounted how she had met Bernard Kilpatrick and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and their family in the early 1970s through her involvement with the Shrine of the Black Madonna church.
Bell also revealed that her very first check for a Kilpatrick for Mayor fund-raising event was for $100,000.
Bullotta asked what the former mayor said when she thanked him for the payment.
"He said I was welcome and I'll see you later," said Bell. When pressed to say further by Bullotta, Bell said "He asked if I had something for him." By that, explained the witness, Kilpatrick meant that she should come back with money.
Bell then described how she would take money from a can under her bed which she would proceed to stuff in her bra or pockets.
"Hundreds mostly. Some fifties but mostly hundreds" were used to pad Bell's bra.
She would then visit Kilpatrick at his offices. Behind the closed doors of a side office, they would sit together in a barber chair and Bell would give him the money. On a series of some 18 visits, Bell testified that would typically hand Kwame between $8,000 and $10,000 a visit. From the first payment of $100,000, she said she gave him between $40,000 and $50,000.
When asked how much in total she paid Kwame, Bell responded:
"I don't know the exact amount but I know it was more than $100,000. I know it was more than $200,000."
An incredulous Jim Thomas, Kwame Kilpatrick's defense lawyer, asked "Are you telling the jury you took money out of your bra in the mayor's office?"
"I would take money out of my bra in front of my son," responded Bell calmly.
She then proceeded to lift her blouse slightly for Mr. Thomas in demonstration.
Thomas gained momentum in his questioning of the witness, taking her to task for possibly bending the truth to spare herself prison time and ultimately driving Bell to tears.
"There are only 2 people in this room other than God that know what happened. And that's me and Mr. Kilpatrick," said a teary Bell towards the end of her testimony.
Witness testimony continues tomorrow at 9 a.m.