Indictment: Kilpatrick Demanded Private Flights To Vegas For City Contracts

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December 17, 2010 5:31 a.m.

According to the federal racketeering indictment that came down Wednesday, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick demanded a lot in exchange for a city contract. One of those things was, allegedly, all-expense-paid trips to swanky locales like Las Vegas via the private jets of city contractors.

In one case, according to the indictment, Kilpatrick had a couple of top aides inform the owner of a company that managed millions of Detroit pension funds that Kilpatrick wasn’t happy the contractor had supported his opponent in the 2005 election. So the unnamed contractor allegedly flew Kilpatrick and five of the mayor’s friends to Vegas for a golf trip in April 2007 — a golf trip that included hotels, meals, limo service, concert tickets and massages — to the tune of $16,000.

The same company allegedly paid another $58,000 on two more trips for Kilpatrick that year, to Tallahassee and then to Bermuda.

The executive of a firm that had a sewer sludge contract with the city allegedly flew Kilpatrick to Vegas at least twice, part of a total of $100,000 that the feds claim the company paid to Kilpatrick in order to keep its contracts.

An official with another company — one that allegedly spent more than $260,000 on private jet flights for Kilpatrick to Tallahassee, Orlando, Washington, D.C. and the Hamptons — begged Kilpatrick to do something that would hide the gifts.

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The flights started in 2003. In 2006, the official told Kilpatrick “it did not look good” to have the company flying him around the country. The mayor said he’d look into it, according to the indictment, but never spoke of it again. Another of the company’s employees suggested to a Kilpatrick aide that the company set up a nonprofit that could accept donations to pay for the flights. The aide declined, and the flights went on for another two years.

On one trip to Vegas, a casino developer named Jon Rutherford allegedly gave Kilpatrick tickets to a boxing match worth $2,400. Kilpatrick then allegedly demanded $5,000 in spending money. On another occasion, Kilpatrick allegedly asked Rutherford for $10,000 in cash to spend during a trip to the United Arab Emirates. In total, according to the indictment, Rutherford gave Kilpatrick bribes totaling more than $500,000 while trying to build a riverfront casino in Detroit.

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