Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's Corruption Trial Comes to a Climactic End

4798Kwame Kilpatrick is accused of running a racketeering "enterprise" from the mayor's office. 

As the public corruption trial was winding down, Bernard Kilpatrick stood in the hallway outside the courtroom during a break, threw his hands in the air and said: "I still don't know what I'm doing here."

In this Jan. 29,2013 file photo former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick waits in line to enter federal court in Detroit. (Photo: AP Photo/David Coates, The Detroit News)
Outside the courtroom snack shop, an equally irritated Bobby Ferguson hunched over a marble counter one day and vented about the government's case.

"I can't believe they're doing this," he said. "I am a child of God. I am a father. I gave people in Detroit jobs. And this is what they're doing to me?"

Then there's former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has sat in the courtroom and shaken his head in disbelief at the testimony of some witnesses -- several of them his onetime friends -- and at times uttering under his breath that he can't believe what they're saying.

After five months of testimony -- 80 government witnesses, bank checks, text messages, secret video and voice recordings -- the three men are continuing to denounce government allegations that they ran a criminal enterprise through the mayor's office to enrich themselves.

Soon, it will be up to jurors to decide their fate.

The government will present closing arguments in U.S. District Court on Monday, summing up months of testimony in one of the most historic public corruption trials in Detroit.

The prosecution will go chapter at a time and try to persuade the jury that a group it has dubbed the "Kilpatrick Enterprise" ran a racket out of the mayor's office for years.

Prosecutors say the members of the enterprise -- the former mayor, his father and contractor friend Ferguson -- fostered a climate of fear in the contracting community through extortion and bid-rigging and used nonprofit funds and state grants for personal use when the money was meant for poor people, kids and seniors.

Prosecutors say Ferguson scored big, making $120 million in city revenue while his friend was mayor. They say he shared his ill-gotten gains with Kilpatrick, who bank records show spent $840,000 more than his mayoral salary could cover during his tenure.

Bernard Kilpatrick made money, too, playing consultant to wealthy businessmen who needed help winning contracts while his son was mayor. Those businessmen threw cash and gifts his way, prosecutors say.

Source: USA Today | Tresa Baldas and Jim Schaefer, Detroit Free Press
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