“Judge denies new trials for Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson”

The Detroit News on August 8, 2013 released the following:

By ROBERT SNELL

“Detroit — A federal judge rejected requests Thursday to give former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and city contractor Bobby Ferguson new trials or acquit them of corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said she would explain her decision in writing soon but hinted that her opinion would not contain any surprises.

Kilpatrick and Ferguson were quickly handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by deputy U.S. Marshals, bound for the federal prison in Milan where they are being held until sentencing next month. But not before Kilpatrick turned to an unidentified female friend in the gallery and tapped his chest near his heart. None of his immediate family members, including wife Carlita or his three sons, attended the hearing.

The judge’s order removes one last obstacle ahead of sentencings for Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard, and Ferguson, all of whom were found guilty by a diverse jury in March following a five-month trial. Edmunds also refused to acquit Bernard Kilpatrick of a single tax charge.

“Disappointment,” Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn told reporters afterward when asked for his reaction. “But that’s her call. It will have to be appealed.”

Ferguson was doing “pretty good,” Evelyn said.

“He’s very spiritual; he goes to prayer regularly, and he trusts things will turn out well,” Evelyn added.

The hearing was Kilpatrick’s second appearance in federal court since the March jury verdict. Both he and Ferguson wore tan prison uniforms and beards.

During the hearing, Kilpatrick and Ferguson sought new trials or acquittals, arguing their cases were unfairly handled by prosecutors.

Kilpatrick was found guilty of 24 counts on March 11, including racketeering conspiracy. He likely faces 20-30 years in federal prison.

Ferguson was convicted of nine charges.

During the five-month City Hall corruption trial, prosecutors cited damning text messages and testimony from scores of witnesses about cash payoffs, bribes and extortion.

Ferguson’s lawyer, Susan Van Dusen, argued on Thursday that federal authorities improperly interpreted the text messages read to jurors.

Van Dusen added prosecutors allowed hearsay on extortion during the trial and let contractors testify that a “climate of fear” prompted them to pay bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow argued back there was nothing improper having agents read texts and that Kwame Kilpatrick’s and Ferguson’s messages were backed up by other evidence.

Federal prosecutors had fought the requests for the new trials or acquittals, arguing there was “overwhelming” evidence presented during the five-month City Hall corruption trial. The jury got it right, prosecutors argued, after hearing from almost 100 witnesses, reviewing more than 400 exhibits and spending 15 days of deliberation.

Also on Thursday, Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer, Harold Gurewitz, reiterated the former mayor’s claims that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of racketeering conspiracy, a 20-year felony, and concerns about conduct by Kilpatrick’s former lawyer.

Kilpatrick’s longtime lawyer, James C. Thomas, was replaced by Gurewitz after the March conviction. Kilpatrick has alleged Thomas had a conflict of interest regarding a former client, Detroit towing titan Gasper Fiore, a one-time government witness.

Kilpatrick also has said he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective legal counsel.

Bernard Kilpatrick, Kwame Kilpatrick’s father, wasn’t present Thursday, having waived his appearance.

But Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer, John Shea, argued on his behalf for his client’s acquittal on Thursday. Bernard Kilpatrick is free on bond while awaiting sentencing on a single tax charge that carries up to three years in prison.

Bernard Kilpatrick’s bid for acquittal revolved around his state of mind and whether he knew his tax return materially understated income. Shea said no.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell countered, arguing that it’s “beyond credulity” Bernard Kilpatrick would forget to report $180,000 in 2005. That was half his income that year.

Blackwell said a tax preparer can’t ask Bernard Kilpatrick about income that he hasn’t reported.

“That’s not their burden,” Blackwell said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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