Jurors in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial heard Tuesday that, mere weeks after being released from a 99 day stint in Wayne County jail in 2009, the former Detroit mayor waltzed into a Detroit dealership and put down tens of thousands of dollars towards the lease of a blinged out red Cadillac Escalade.
Government witness Doug Dalgleish, former General Manager of the now shuttered Dalgleish Cadillac dealership on Cass Ave., testified that Kilpatrick first came to his General Motors franchise in 2000 to lease a Cadillac Deville.
U.S. Attorney Eric Doeh introduced a $2,000 check that Kilpatrick used towards the lease of the $44,000 vehicle. The check, dated March 2nd 2000, was drawn from the account of the non-profit Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Almost 9 years later, freshly released from Wayne County jail, Kilpatrick made his way back in to the dealership. The former Detroit mayor spent 3 months in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice stemming from his attempts to cover up an affair with his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty. Kilpatrick was released on February 3rd 2009 on 5 years probation and ordered to pay back $1 million in restitution to the city of Detroit.
This time Kilpatrick had his eye on a red 2009 Cadillac Escalade. Dalgleish testified that Kilpatrick came to the dealership on an evening in February 2009 with $9,000 in cash, which included 79 $100 bills, and $4,000 in cashier's checks towards the lease of the vehicle. As all the clerical staff had already left for the day, Dalgleish himself drew up the receipt for $13,000.
And more cashier's checks followed. There was one for $16,000 dated February 12th 2009 and then another for $6,458.86 dated Ferbruary 19th 2009. The total amount of the 24 month lease pre-payment that Kilpatrick made was $35,458.86.
Dalgleish explained that Enterprise was the company that the car was leased from through the payments to the dealership. And the former mayor asked for some extra customization to his cherry Escalade including custom tires and wheels as well as some chrome accessories like tow hooks.
The dealership, obligated to report any payments made over $10,000 in cash instruments, submitted a form to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2009 that reflected the more than $19,000 paid by Kilpatrick.
Jim Thomas, Kilpatrick's lawyer, addressed the $2,000 check drawn from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund by asking the witness if he knew whether the 2000 Cadillac Deville had been purchased for business or personal use. The witness conceded that he did not.
Then Thomas turned his attention to the 2000 Escalade.
"There is nothing inappropriate about a guy getting out of jail and getting a car?" asked Thomas. Dalgleish agreed there was not.
The witness also confirmed that there were discount benefits to making pre-payments on a lease and that this happened on about 15% of all car leases.
The defense lawyer had Dalgleish agree that he had never inquired where the money for the payments came from and that he had not thought there was anything suspicious about the cashier's checks.
Thomas also made sure that the jury knew that between leaving jail and walking into the dealership, Kilpatrick had landed a big contract with Compuware.
And on one of the cashier's checks, the one for $4,000 that Kilpatrick had initially walked into the dealership with, Thomas pointed out that the remitter was actually Carolyn C. Kilpatrick, his mother.
On redirect, Doeh highlighted the fact that if 15% of car leasers were making pre-payments, an overwhelming 85% were not.
Earlier in the morning, government witness James Rosendall finished his third day of testimony. The former Synagro Technologies executive testified last week to gifting defendant Bernard Kilpatrick with champagne and cash payments because he was afraid Kilpatrick Sr. would blow a lucrative city contract for $1.1 million if he was not appeased. Rosendall also told the court that he only took on Bernard as a consultant on the deal because he was told to by his son the former mayor.
FBI agent Robert Beeckman then took the stand yet again. Beeckman is one of a handful of federal agents who have repeatedly testified for various chapters of the trial.
Beeckman's testimony proved that Rosendall's fears about Bernard killing the Synagro deal were not without basis.
U.S. Attorney Bullotta introduced a recorded conversation between Bernard and then girlfriend Akunna Olumba from January 31st 2008.
In the recording, Bernard can be heard stewing over how unhappy he was with Rosendall and Synagro: "This is so so screwed. I am so close to going to my man and telling him to kill it..."
Jurors heard that 'my man' referred to Bernard's son Kwame.
Court resumes Wednesday 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.