EPISODE SEVENTEEN

Operation Bombay Dreams

While his son was mayor, Bernard Kilpatrick created a political consulting firm and lobbied on behalf of city contractors. Federal authorities tapped Bernard’s phone calls, and discovered that he was taking bribes.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

While his son was mayor, Bernard Kilpatrick created a political consulting firm and lobbied on behalf of city contractors. Federal authorities tapped Bernard’s phone calls, and discovered that he was taking bribes. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

For years, the FBI has been running a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the Kilpatrick administration. As they dig deeper, the feds uncover a massive pay-to-play enterprise that reaches every level of City Hall. Is Kwame Kilpatrick a crook? Or are his associates just exploiting his name in order to enrich themselves?

LISTEN TO EPISODE SEVENTEEN


A Target-Rich ENVIRONMENT

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow requested a transfer from Seattle to Detroit. At the time, corruption was limited in Seattle, and Chutkow was interested in taking on bigger cases.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow requested a transfer from Seattle to Detroit. At the time, corruption was limited in Seattle, and Chutkow was interested in taking on bigger cases. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

The U.S. attorney in Seattle, when I told him I wanted to transfer to the Detroit office, he told me that he wanted to get me a mental status exam.
— Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow
Assistant U.S. attorney Mark Chutkow and FBI agent Bob Beeckman grew suspicious of Kwame Kilpatrick’s lavish lifestyle, and decided to investigate the mayor’s finances.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Assistant U.S. attorney Mark Chutkow and FBI agent Bob Beeckman grew suspicious of Kwame Kilpatrick’s lavish lifestyle, and decided to investigate the mayor’s finances. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick delivers a televised speech in 2003. During Kwame’s first term as mayor, federal investigators discovered that he was depositing large amounts of cash in his personal bank accounts.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick delivers a televised speech in 2003. During Kwame’s first term as mayor, federal investigators discovered that he was depositing large amounts of cash in his personal bank accounts. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Mayor Kilpatrick lived an extravagant lifestyle. I mean, he had the largest supply of high-fashion custom-tailored suits that I’ve ever seen.
— Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow
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Bernard Kilpatrick, pictured to the left of Kwame in both of these photos, helped with both of his son’s mayoral campaigns. Bernard had decades of experience in local politics, and started a political consulting firm called Maestro Associates in the 2000s. Photos courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.


An Anonymous Letter

Federal investigators received an anonymous tip that businessman Karl Kado, who managed vendors at the Cobo Hall convention center, was paying bribes to city officials. The FBI convinced Kado to wear a wire, and caught Bernard Kilpatrick on tape discussing payments with him.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Federal investigators received an anonymous tip that businessman Karl Kado, who managed vendors at the Cobo Hall convention center, was paying bribes to city officials. The FBI convinced Kado to wear a wire, and caught Bernard Kilpatrick on tape discussing payments with him. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

One of the really fun things about a wiretap is, people talk in code. They can talk in code for weeks. It only takes one slip up to decode all the rest of that.
— FBI Agent Bob Beeckman
While listening in on Bernard Kilpatrick’s phone calls, investigators heard him mention James Rosendall, a vice president at a sludge hauling company called Synagro. FBI agents bugged a booth at the Original Pancake House and caught the two men on tape discussing payments. Rosendall then agreed to cooperate with the authorities.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

While listening in on Bernard Kilpatrick’s phone calls, investigators heard him mention James Rosendall, a vice president at a sludge hauling company called Synagro. FBI agents bugged a booth at the Original Pancake House and caught the two men on tape discussing payments. Rosendall then agreed to cooperate with the authorities. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

He thought we bugged his pancakes.
— FBI Agent Bob Beeckman, on James Rosendall
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MAESTRO

This is covert video footage that Jim Rosendall made of a conversation with Bernard Kilpatrick. The mayor’s father, whose consulting company was called Maestro Associates, complained that Rosendall paid him bribes out in the open, at a restaurant. Courtesy of YouTube and WXYZ.

I don’t ever want anybody to see me take money from someone.
— Bernard Kilpatrick

FAMILY BUSINESS

After six years of gathering evidence, federal authorities charged Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick, and three others with running a criminal enterprise. The 38-count indictment alleged that the defendants ran a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy from City Hall.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

After six years of gathering evidence, federal authorities charged Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick, and three others with running a criminal enterprise. The 38-count indictment alleged that the defendants ran a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy from City Hall. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

I remember saying, boy, this is such bullshit. This is such bullshit.
— Bernard Kilpatrick

EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. This episode was produced by John White, Samantha Lee, Austin Mitchell, Rob Szypko, and Soraya Shockley. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound-designed, and scored by Sam Bair. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd. Additional music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, and Jon Ivans.

Additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death. Our credit music this week is “Walk on Jagged Air” by the Dirtbombs. Archival research by Brennan Rees. Some of the audio in this episode appears courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith, and their film KMK: A Documentary of Kwame Kilpatrick. Additional archival material courtesy of WXYZ. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Jim Schaefer, Mary Schroeder, Melanie Maxwell, Mary Wallace, Elizabeth Clemens, Max White, Randy Lundquist, Peter Karmanos and everyone who shared their stories with us.