Kwame Kilpatrick Trial | Life-long friends become witnesses - New York News

Kwame Kilpatrick watches as life-long friends become witnesses

Posted: Updated:
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Kwame Kilpatrick's friends are getting known by another name these days in U.S. District Court: Witness.

It's not a term they're comfortable with, as Kilpatrick college buddy Mahlon Clift made clear when he testified Monday that he was the mule who conveyed $90,000 from Bobby Ferguson to Kilpatrick.

Clift met Kilpatrick when they were at Florida A&M University in the late 80s and early 90s. He introduced Kilpatrick to his future wife, Carlita, and asked Kilpatrick to be a groomsman in his own wedding.

Now he's a barber and sometime jeweler in Chicago, where his clients include athletes, controversial crooner R. Kelly and possibly, according to defense attorneys and Clift himself, drug dealers.

Clift said he loved Kilpatrick and considered him a life-long friend, which sounded odd coming from a prosecution witness. Defense attorneys suggested that Clift testified only because he was hoping to get a break on some other matters, though those were not laid out for the jury. Kilpatrick sat expressionless as Clift told jurors Ferguson gave him $90,000 at the Atheneum Hotel in Greektown in 2008 to give to "Black," one of Ferguson's nicknames for Kilpatrick. Clift stuffed the dough into a pair of gym shorts and a pair of jeans he pulled on over the shorts, prompting two of the funniest moments of the nascent trial. After Ferguson attorney Mike Rataj told Clift he must have looked like the Michelin man, Clift countered that this occurred before the skinny jean fad.

Defense attorneys poked some holes in Clift's credibility, pointing out inconsistencies in his testimony. But Clift may have served prosecutors well because while he secured an immunity agreement a couple years ago before meeting with the grand jury that ultimately indicted Kilpatrick, he is not implicated in any of the allegedly dirty deals that went down during Kilpatrick's tenure in city hall.

Despite Clift's apparent reluctance to testify, I don't hold out much hope for the prospect of their continued friendship. Clift's body language suggested he agrees.

Most witnesses walk down the center of the courtroom, between the defense and prosecution tables, on their way out. One prosecution witness, a former bank official who handled some of Kilpatrick's business, even blew him a kiss on her way out. Kilpatrick reciprocated. Yet Clift took the long way out, walking around the far side of the prosecution table, which put as much distance between himself and Kilpatrick as possible.

Other one-time Kilpatrick buds expected to testify over the next four months include lifelong friend Kandia Milton, a former deputy mayor; Marc Andre Cunningham, a mayoral appointee and frat brother; and high school pal and former teammate Derrick Miller, Kilpatrick's former chief administrative and chief information officer. All three pleaded guilty to public corruption charges and are cooperating with the feds in return for reduced sentences. Miller is expecting to give the most damning testimony -- he allegedly passed a $10,000 bribe along to Kilpatrick in a restaurant bathroom -- and may provide the trial's grand finale.

Two other Kilpatrick friends caught up in the federal web include lifelong friend DeDan Milton, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is cooling his heels in the federal pen, and Jeffrey Beasley, Kilpatrick's city treasurer and frat brother, who has been charged in the federal probe of the city's pension fund.

Kilpatrick's friends wondering whether there's something worse than being a witness need only turn to Ferguson.

These days, he's known by a far less desirable adjective: Co-defendant.

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on Fox 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter or Facebook.

  • Latest Development in the Kilpatrick Corruption TrialMore>>

  • Bobby Ferguson sentenced to 21 years in prison

    Bobby Ferguson sentenced to 21 years in prison

    Friday, October 11 2013 3:20 PM EDT2013-10-11 19:20:27 GMT
    Bobby Ferguson, a former city contractor and longtime friend of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption case.
    Bobby Ferguson, a former city contractor and longtime friend of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption case.
  • Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison

    Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison

    Thursday, October 10 2013 9:33 PM EDT2013-10-11 01:33:28 GMT
    A federal judge sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Thursday to 28 years in prison for his role in a public corruption scandal that cost the city millions and ended a career for the once promising politician.
    A federal judge sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Thursday to 28 years in prison for his role in a public corruption scandal that cost the city millions and ended a career for the once promising politician.
  • No prison time for Kilpatrick's right-hand man

    No prison time for Kilpatrick's right-hand man

    Thursday, May 29 2014 11:32 PM EDT2014-05-30 03:32:53 GMT
    He was former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's best friend and was once his right-hand man in City Hall. But when the corruption scandal unfolded, Derrick Miller testified against his former friend, helping to send the ex-mayor to prison.
    He was former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's best friend and was once his right-hand man in City Hall. But when the corruption scandal unfolded, Derrick Miller testified against his former friend, helping to send the ex-mayor to prison.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Another company to give family free cruise

    Family of 5-year-old with cancer upset with cruise line

    Family of 5-year-old with cancer upset with cruise line

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-07-25 22:52:08 GMT
    A Long Island family is upset that a cruise line won't accommodate them after their 5-year-old son had to have emergency surgery for cancer. Nicolas Colucci and the rest of his family was supposed to go on a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. They did not buy travel insurance, so Norwegian says they cannot rebook the cruise so close to departure. The CEO of a rival cruise line saw their story and reached out to the Colucci family to offer them a free cruise.
    A Long Island family is upset that a cruise line won't accommodate them after their 5-year-old son had to have emergency surgery for cancer. Nicolas Colucci and the rest of his family was supposed to go on a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. They did not buy travel insurance, so Norwegian says they cannot rebook the cruise so close to departure. The CEO of a rival cruise line saw their story and reached out to the Colucci family to offer them a free cruise.
  • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

    Pete Seeger's environmental legacy lives on

    Pete Seeger's environmental legacy lives on

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-07-25 22:16:30 GMT
    American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger's passion for music and the environment embodied who he was every single day of his life. In 1966, Seeger co-founded the organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Ever since, Seeger's 106-foot-long sloop, Clearwater, has been sailing up and down the Hudson River to educate and inspire children to protect the environment.
    American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger's passion for music and the environment embodied who he was every single day of his life. In 1966, Seeger co-founded the organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Ever since, Seeger's 106-foot-long sloop, Clearwater, has been sailing up and down the Hudson River to educate and inspire children to protect the environment.
  • Eric Garner's family seeks federal probe of police custody death

    Eric Garner's family seeks federal probe of police custody death

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:46 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:46:48 GMT
    Family members of a man who died in police custody, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others met with federal prosecutors Friday to press for an investigation into the death. An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears be a chokehold last week while arresting him on Staten Island. The 43-year-old Garner can be heard gasping, "I can't breathe!" Chokeholds are banned under New York Police Department policy.
    Family members of a man who died in police custody, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others met with federal prosecutors Friday to press for an investigation into the death. An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears be a chokehold last week while arresting him on Staten Island. The 43-year-old Garner can be heard gasping, "I can't breathe!" Chokeholds are banned under New York Police Department policy.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices