Accountant called as Kilpatrick witness agrees with prosecutor

Accountant called as Kilpatrick witness agrees with prosecutor

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

After five months of testimony and about 80 witnesses for the prosecution, the defense took the lead Thursday in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.

Under the law, the defense has no obligation to put on witnesses or even respond to the government's accusations.  Based on what I saw today, they may have been a lot better off sending this case straight to the jury.

The Grind is a club for so-called gentleman.  At one time it was slated to be replaced by a skin bar known as Club Rain.  But first, they had to get by mayoral pal Bobby Ferguson.

Before resting their case, prosecutors went over one last text message that they say showed Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Ferguson in cahoots, running a racket out of city hall.

FERGUSON: Club Rain, the white boy thinks he is slick.  I don't have any real money.  FEI did $20,000 job and he won't pay.  Is it all right if building safety [expletive] with his permit?

KILPATRICK: Will call later.

But FBI Agent Bob Beeckman acknowledged to Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas that he saw no evidence Kilpatrick took any action.  He also agreed with prosecutor Mark Chutkow that there was no evidence Kilpatrick told Ferguson to take a hike.

THOMAS: The mayor is not encouraging him in any way is he?

BEECKMAN: Not in that text message.  No.

CHUTKOW: Did you see if Mayor Kilpatrick said that's an inappropriate request to make of me?

BEECKMAN: No.

By noon, defense attorneys started calling their own witnesses for the first time since the trial began in September.

For their second witness, the defense called an accountant, but by the time he was done testifying, you would've thought he was working for the prosecution.

Gary Leeman is a forensic accountant and a witness for Kilpatrick.  Nevertheless, he agreed with prosecutor Michael Bullotta that the money the non-profit Kilpatrick Civic Fund spent on yoga lessons was inappropriate.

LEEMAN: I would doubt that would be a deductible expense.

BULLOTA: Wouldn't be close?

LEEMAN: Not even close.

Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton said that kind of testimony doesn't bode well for Kilpatrick and company.

"Jurors remember that.  Why?  Because the defense doesn't have to do anything, and if the defense does something it better be good.  And if it's not, not good."

Still Ferguson attorney Gerald Evelyn said the defense will do its job.

"We've always had the ball in some ways, but this is just part of the process.  We'll see how it all turns out."

Because of a scheduling conflict, Leeman will not be back on the stand until Tuesday.  But based on what I saw today, defense attorneys wouldn't mind seeing him leave town for good.

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