Prosecutors drop 1 charge against Bernard Kilpatrick in federal corruption trial
Updated On: Feb 08 2013 02:58:43 PM EST
Bernard Kilpatrick has caught a minor break in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial.
Late Thursday, prosecutors decided to dismiss a tax charge against the elder Kilpatrick. The dismissed count was for filing a false tax return in 2007.
Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer, John Shea, argued this morning that another count of filing a false tax return in 2004 should also be dismissed.
Government and defense lawyers were all present in Judge Nancy Edmunds's courtroom Friday to discuss Rule 29 motions and rulings on proposed jury instructions.
Defendants Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson were absent from this morning's proceedings.
Defense counsel was provided with an opportunity to argue for a judgment of acquittal of charges under Rule 29 motions.
Rule 29 motions typically occur when the government has finished producing its evidence and the defense argues that the judge must enter a judgment of acquittal of charges before the case goes to jury due to insufficient evidence for a conviction.
Shea argued that Bernard Kilpatrick's 2004 tax return was filed on October 15th, 2005 by third parties who did not have an authorized signature from the political consultant.
The defense lawyer stated that the IRS was never provided with a signed tax return and that there was no direct evidence that Kilpatrick signed to authorize the tax document.
Shea referenced testimony from government witnesses Cassandra Jones and Alan Young, accountants with the Detroit-based firm Alan C. Young & Associates that filed Kilpatrick's tax returns for the years 2004, 2005 and 2007. The lawyer stated that Young's explanation in direct testimony that they couldn't produce a signed document for federal investigators because it had been longer than three years didn't hold up as the accounting firm produced a signed tax return for 2005.
Shea also contended that it was the tax preparer's obligation to get Kilpatrick's authorized signature for the returns and that perjury could not be committed if a tax return had been filed without authorized consent.
After listening to US Attorney Jennifer Blackwell argue against an acquittal of the charge, Judge Edmunds said she would take the matter under advisement and see what the jury had to say.
Tax charges are punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
Susan Van Dusen, Ferguson's lawyer, argued for an acquittal of 5 extortion charges- counts 2,3,7,8 and 10- due to insufficient evidence from the government.
The judge said she felt comfortable that the 5 extortion counts should be submitted to the jury so the motions under Rule 29 were denied.
Extortion charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.
James Thomas, Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer, sought an acquittal of mail fraud counts 18 though 27 as well as 3 wire fraud counts.
The mail and wire fraud counts relate to the government's contention that Kilpatrick sent solicitation letters for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund with the intent of using the funds raised for personal purposes and towards his political campaigns. Mail and wire fraud charges also carry 20 years each.
Thomas argued there was no proof that Kwame Kilpatrick ever sent the letters for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund while the government asserted there was sufficient evidence on record indicating that Kilpatrick benefited from the Civic Fund and that this constituted a misrepresentation to the public.
The judge denied the motions stating that she felt there was sufficient evidence to submit to the jury.
The session ended with discussions on proposed instructions to the jury. Judge Edmunds ruled on 11 instructions issues including ones related to subscription and RICO conspiracy.
One of the more interesting instructions related to a defense attempt to refer to political fund-raiser Emma Bell as an "alcohol-abuser". Judge Edmunds declined to include that reference.
Jury instructions and closing arguments are set to begin Monday at 9AM.
About the author
Alexandra Harland is a Princeton undergrad and has a masters degree in International affairs with Columbia. A Montreal native, she worked with the Daily Telegraph newspaper for a few years before transitioning to TV, when she worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings. Alexandra has also worked in newsrooms in both Detroit and Boston.