Thursday, October 11, 2012

Testimony: Kilpatrick Used Nonprofit Funds For Personal Gains

Testimony emerged during former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial that indicated that he used funds from his nonprofit to pay for yoga lessons, tuition for his relatives, and a weekend vacation with his ex-mistress.

The information came after 12 days of testimony in Kilpatrick's trial, according to a report in The Detroit Free Press. The former mayor, along with his father, Bernard, his longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson, and ex-city water chief Victor Mercado are accused of running a criminal enterprise through the mayor's office to make money for themselves.

Part of the government's evidence against Kilpatrick stems from his alleged misuse of funds from his nonprofit, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Jurors were shown checks from the organization for various personal expenses, including:

  • $2,500 to New York University to pay for Kilpatrick's sister's tuition;
  • $1,000 to pay for his cousin's tuition at Tennessee State University;
  • $8,605 to the La Costa Resort and Spa in California, where the Kilpatricks stayed for a week-long vacation;
  • Almost $4,000 for yoga lessons for Kilpatrick; and,
  • $1,009 to the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colo., where Kilpatrick and his then-mistress Christine Beatty allegedly spent a weekend in 2002.
The government attempted to prove that Colorado trip took place by showing jurors text message exchanges between Kilpatrick and Beatty.

Kilpatrick's defense lawyer, James Thomas, said that the nonprofit's funds were not misused, and were spent on legitimate items such as education and fundraising. He also argued the vacations that the prosecution highlighted involved legitimate business purposes. For instance, on cross examination of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officer who investigated the mayor's vacation in Vail, Thomas indicated Kirkpatrick was in Colorado because of a mayors' conference in Denver.

The IRS officer, Ron Sauer, said that the trip appeared to be personal in nature, citing receipts for manicures, pedicures, and a man's facial.

Testimony in the case resumes today. You can read the full story in The Detroit Free Press.

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