Kilpatrick trial: Tailor's testimony a stitch different - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Kilpatrick trial: Tailor's testimony a stitch different from contractor's

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

The Kilpatrick public corruption trial Monday was a little like buying a suit and getting two pairs of pants that didn't quite match.  In this case Kwame Kilpatrick was the suit while the pants were his tailor and a contractor, who told differing stories on the origin of a gratuity for the mayor.

Johnson Akinwusi got some unwanted attention Monday morning, but attention from Kwame Kilpatrick is just what Akinwusi was after ten years ago when he paid off five grand worth of suits for hizzoner.

Not long after that, Akinwusi partnered with Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson.  Their proposal to build a new Heilmann Recreation Center didn't score well, but they still got the city deal.  It was worth a cool $7 million.

Tailor Larry Alebiosu gave a slightly different account of how Akinwusi and Kilpatrick came together.

While Akinwusi said Friday that Alebiosu suggested he write Kilpatrick a letter and pay off his layaway, Alebiosu told me he never suggested a letter.  He testified Monday that it was Akinwusi's idea to give the mayor a gift, so Alebiosu suggested making a payment on the mayor's layaway account.

Alebiosu, who owns Fashion International in Southfield, said he never gave the mayor free clothes, at least not intentionally.  He said the former mayor still owes him money.

Detroit city official testifies about blow up with Ferguson

A city official testified Monday that she felt intimidated by Ferguson, but her co-worker testified that she overreacted and he saw nothing wrong with a deal the feds are calling corrupt.

Recreation official LaJuan Wilks testified that one of the worst parts of the Heilmann Recreation Center project was dealing with Ferguson, who she said told her "the only reason you still have this job is because you're black".

After her blow up with the mayor's pal, Wilks said she called Tyrone Clifton, another city official working on the project.  Clifton testified that Wilks was upset, but he didn't see what the fuss was all about.

"I didn't think anything about the call that I got from Ms. Wilks," he said outside of court.  "I don't believe a civil servant could get fired because of Bobby Ferguson. I don't."

Wilks' testimony renews a debate that vexes defense attorneys.  They say witnesses continually say they felt threatened, even though they were never explicitly threatened.

Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas said their feelings and fears ultimately don't matter.

"If you're willing to infer, first of all, that it happened, and then infer that as a result of that happening somebody was justified in something that they felt that somebody else said and what they said and what they meant.  This is America.  Where's the evidence?"

Speaking of perception, Clifton said he didn't see any problem with the Heilmann deal.

"Do you feel that the portion of city government that you were involved in... was on the level?" I asked him.

"Yes," he answered.

Why?  "We did our due diligence and made our recommendation," he said.

Clifton will be back on the witness stand on Tuesday morning.

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