EPISODE SEVENTEEN: OPERATION BOMBAY DREAMS
MARK CHUTKOW: I was in what was called the complex crimes unit in Seattle, Washington, and we just did not have any corruption cases and although that's good for a city, it was a little bit of a morale-buster.
JOHN WHITE: This is an assistant U.S. attorney named Mark Chutkow.
CHUTKOW: 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.
CHUTKOW: Upon coming here to Detroit, it was somewhat actually stunning to see the juxtaposition.There was quite a bit of corruption. It was what we call a target rich environment.
BOB BEECKMAN: So the relationship with Mark began sort of by default.
JOHN: And this is an FBI agent named Bob Beeckman.
BEECKMAN: He was my guy and I was his guy and we began having meetings and getting together and became very close friends actually.
JOHN: Beeckman and Chutkow started working on corruption investigations together. And at the time, Detroit just happened to have a new mayor.
JOHN: What did you think of Kwame Kilpatrick before you began the investigation?
BEECKMAN: I thought he was actually a breath of fresh air for the city. He was considered a rising star in political circles. And there was a lot of optimism that surrounded him in 2002. And shortly after that the wheels basically came off and it was scandal after scandal after scandal.
NEWS ARCHIVAL: Rock star style entourages. Pricey red Lincoln Navigator. Exotic hotel rooms on his city-issued credit card.
BEECKMAN: And by 2004, we’d accumulated enough intelligence that we were able to open a corruption case on Kwame Kilpatrick.
JOHN: And, of course, the feds had to come up with a code name for the operation.
BEECKMAN: So we were trying to think of something that had nothing to do with anything and were leafing through a magazine and we read about an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called Bombay Dreams. None of us had ever seen it. Had nothing to do with anything we said OK. That's what it is. Bombay Dreams.
JOHN: In previous episodes, we told you about how Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick faced years of scandals...and even a few stints in jail...before kicking off a book tour. But almost that entire time, a federal corruption investigation was simmering under the surface. Today on the show...Operation Bombay Dreams.
JOHN: I’m John White. Welcome to Crimetown.
CHUTKOW: Mayor Kilpatrick lived an extravagant lifestyle. I mean, he had the largest supply of high-fashion custom-tailored suits that I've ever seen.
JOHN: Not long after Kwame Kilpatrick was first elected mayor, his taste for the high life caught the attention of FBI agent Bob Beeckman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow.
CHUTKOW: Agent Beeckman and I are government servants, public servants like he was, and we pretty much had five suits that got circulated week to week. And I don't recall him ever repeating wearing the same article of clothing.
JOHN: How was Kwame Kilpatrick financing his wardrobe? Chutkow knew just where to look.
CHUTKOW: So we followed the paper trail of his finances. His bank records, his credit card records, and we found some interesting things in there. Prior to the time that he was the mayor of the city, he had worked as a representative of the state house of the state of Michigan. And he had a paycheck that he would get on a biweekly basis wired into his account. And from there when he needed things he would either write checks for expenses or he would withdraw cash from his bank account. And that's pretty much how most people live their lives. And then that all changed, once he became the mayor of the city of Detroit.
JOHN: After Kwame was elected mayor, he started depositing large amounts of cash into his personal bank account.
CHUTKOW: They were round number, thousand dollar, 2000 dollar, 3000 dollar deposits. This was financial behavior consistent with a drug dealer or somebody that had illicit proceeds, and it certainly wasn't consistent with the banking transactions of a public servant. We compared that to his inflow of income from his only legitimate source which was his payroll check from the city of Detroit and that showed a differential of $840,000.
JOHN: That is, there was $840,000 more in Kwame’s account than there should have been. Mark Chutkow and Bob Beeckman needed to figure out where all that cash was coming from.
BEECKMAN: This was not an easy target. I would have loved to wire somebody up and send them into the mayor's office. We’d be done with this in six months. But the mayor had this enormous flotilla of bodyguards and one of their responsibilities was to sweep the place for bugs.
CHUTKOW: He idolized a previous mayor of the city, Coleman Young, who had been wiretapped.
ARCHIVAL COLEMAN YOUNG: I have been hounded for ten goddamn years with allegations, rumors, and not one concrete charge.
CHUTKOW: And Mayor Kilpatrick knew that. He was quite sensitive that that's not going to ever happen to me.
JOHN: Then, one day, Agent Beeckman says he got a tip.
BEECKMAN: We received an anonymous letter about how bribes were being paid at Cobo Hall, at our convention center, by an exclusive contractor named Karl Kado.
JOHN: Karl Kado had a contract to manage electrical and janitorial services at the convention center. In exchange for that contract, he paid a commission to the city.
BEECKMAN: Which at the time was about 17 percent to the city of Detroit. Well, Kado ended up being in a position where he dealt with public officials all the time, he would wine and dine them.
JOHN: Kado convinced these officials that they should lower the city’s commission, which allowed him to keep more of his profits. And what did these officials get in return?
BEECKMAN: He would give paper bags full of cash to the various public officials that were in this chain of supervision above him.
JOHN: So, Agent Beeckman decided to try to flip Karl Kado.
BEECKMAN: We confront him with the evidence. He agrees to cooperate and he agrees to cooperate significantly by wearing a wire.
WIRE KARL KADO: ...I was taking care of that, and that was all I did for city. And they didn’t pay me..
JOHN: Karl Kado wired up and went to meet his main contact at a local restaurant. Someone he claimed was picking up a lot of those bags of cash. Someone very close to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
BEECKMAN: The mayor’s dad, his name was Bernard Kilpatrick.
WIRE KADO: ...Bernard, for cleaning. For cleaning.
WIRE BERNARD KILPATRICK: I’m trying to make you whole. I ain’t going to be able to get all that, you know that...
JOHN: The feds had a plan. Karl Kado would complain to Bernard that the city owed him money from previous contracts.
WIRE KADO: ...they didn’t pay me for it. I paid every single, my part, I paid you, I paid you 100 percent...
JOHN: So Bernard told Kado he could fix the problem. But it would cost him.
WIRE KADO: ...I give you $160,000. Check or cash?
WIRE BERNARD: Check.
WIRE KADO: Check. I give you $160,000 check.
BEECKMAN: The mayor's dad admitted to collecting well over a hundred thousand dollars from Kado. That's not normal. That's not the way normal business people do things, all right? The reason he has to give you all this money is because your son’s the mayor.
JOHN: When Kwame got elected, you had started your own consulting business, right?
JOHN: What was that called?
BERNARD: Maestro. That was my father's nickname.
JOHN: This is Bernard Kilpatrick, Kwame’s father. He’d worked for decades in local politics, and when his son became mayor, he started a business called Maestro Associates.
JOHN: And what did the company do? What kind of business?
JOHN: Consulting is kind of a generic term for a lot of things. But what it was it that you did?
BERNARD: OK. When I started my company, I was on a, I’ll say a first name basis. I could talk to anybody: the president of the city council, the governor. I really had a background for this kind of stuff.
JOHN: So you were connected.
BERNARD: I -- I was connected.
JOHN: Super connected.
BERNARD: Super connected. Man, I started charging, I was shocked, what these folks would pay. I made two phone calls and made twenty thousand dollars.
DREW NELLES: And so what are you actually saying on those phone calls? Like what specifically does this kind of consulting involve?
BERNARD: Well it involves talking to somebody about the merits of some people that they weighing to see who they’re gonna choose to do this work.
DREW: And what kind of work?
BERNARD: It doesn't matter. Consulting is the ability to bring people together to see if we can work a deal out. All my client want is a deal.
WIRE BERNARD: Shakib.
WIRE CALLER: Dr. BK, how are you?
WIRE BERNARD: What’s happening, you all right, brother?...
JOHN: Eventually, the FBI collected enough evidence to get a judge to sign a warrant for a wiretap. Here’s agent Bob Beeckman.
BEECKMAN: We had tapped the phone of the, the mayor's dad. One of the really fun things about a wiretap is, you know, people talk in code. They can talk in code for weeks. It only takes one slip up to decode all the rest of that. So it's sort of like a big chess game.
WIRE BERNARD: ...Every time I turn one way I find a snake in the road out there, man...
BEECKMAN: And there was there was one particular businessman he's saying how things looking for the party? How are things looking for the party? And he keeps saying it over and over again. He’s paying Bernard Kilpatrick to go to some party, which makes no sense. Start over and back them up and start over. What are they trying to say here? You know, we kept listening and listening and trying to put together different clues. And what happened was this particular businessman, he’d been saying party for weeks, how's the party looking? And then at one point Bernard Kilpatrick was kind of a half asleep and he said, the what? And he goes, You know. And then he says … Synagro.
JOHN: So Agent Beeckman did what all great investigators do: he googled “Synagro.”
BEECKMAN: And then it all kind of coalesced at that point. It decoded everything else they were talking about. Synagro was, it’s the world's largest processor of sludge from wastewater. So you flush your toilet. It's got to go somewhere. This company reclaims that water and make fertilizer out of it or they burn it in a smelter or they take it to a landfill. So Synagro now has this deal with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. A $1.2 billion contract over 25 years.
JOHN: But before the Synagro contract could proceed, the mayor and the city council would have to approve it. And around this time, the FBI started hearing a new name on the wiretap.
WIRE BERNARD: ...I’ll meet with them, I’m gonna tell JR, I ain’t called him back yet...
BEECKMAN: We ended up getting a break in the case, where we're listening to wiretaps. And they were talking about a guy that they called JR.
JOHN: It didn’t take long for Agent Beeckman to figure out that JR was a vice president at Synagro named Jim Rosendall.
JIM ROSENDALL: When I first got involved with this contract and the mayor's office and the city, people were crawling out of the woodwork to get involved. Everybody felt that they were owed something.
JOHN: This is Jim Rosendall.
ROSENDALL: During the course of securing this contract with the city, I went to a fundraiser at the mayor’s home. And I talked to the mayor and he asked if I would meet with his father who was a lobbyist and would work with us on securing this contract.
JOHN: Jim Rosendall and Bernard Kilpatrick started working together to push the Synagro deal through.
ROSENDALL: It started out, we would meet at the bar, we would have hors d’oeuvres and a few drinks. Then it went to dinners. Pretty soon it was going to football games and baseball games.
JOHN: And eventually, Rosendall says, he started paying bribes to Bernard.
ROSENDALL: It went from in a shoebox to paper bags. It was concealed in every way and shape.
JOHN: By 2007, the federal government was several years into a corruption investigation of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his associates. They had recently learned that Jim Rosendall, the vice president of a sludge processing company named Synagro, was paying bribes to try and win a city contract. So FBI agent Bob Beeckman got back on the wire.
BEECKMAN: And we hear a call between Jim Rosendall and the mayor's dad, Maestro, and they say let's get together and talk about the deal. They said they were going to meet at the Original Pancake House in Birmingham, Michigan. And we’re thinking, we’d like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. So we got one of these affidavits done.
CHUTKOW: To plant a bug...
BEECKMAN: To plant a bug, yeah.
CHUTKOW: At the Original Pancake House. My wife went to high school with the manager of the Pancake House.
JOHN: Again, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow.
CHUTKOW: I asked her to get the phone number and the address for this manager, and he agreed to allow us to go and use the Pancake House to plant a bug.
BEECKMAN: You know we sent a team in there overnight the night before and they run microphones in there. We bugged one particular booth. The manager says, “Ooh, that could be a problem.”
CHUTKOW: The Pancake House is probably the most popular breakfast place in all of southeast Michigan and it usually has lines out the door and it's regulated by a small Asian-American woman who decides where everybody is going to sit.
BEECKMAN: And she will not let you sit down til your whole party’s there. And he says, frankly, we're all a little scared of her. So the time comes. We have the bugged booth, and there's two FBI agents sitting there and they're drinking coffee and looking at the front door and they're getting ready to run away as soon as the guy shows up you know. And I'm sitting in a van in the parking lot, listening to the FBI radio and I hear surveillance saying OK here he comes, he’s coming up Woodward Avenue, he’s pulled into the parking lot. I call the manager on his cell phone, I say OK here he comes, he's wearing a white jacket. The manager goes over to this hostess, takes the menus from her, says, I'll take this one. And he waves Jim Rosendall over and hands him the menu. The two FBI agents grab their coffee cups and run away from the bugged booth. And he sits him down at the bugged booth and then we’re all high fiving each other in the van outside. And then Maestro and his girlfriend are an hour and a half late. All you hear is this hostess yelling at Rosendall, you can't sit here by yourself! Where's the rest of your party?! Threatening to throw him outside and screw everything all up. Finally, he shows up. Maestro sits down with his girlfriend and they talk about their deal.
WIRE BERNARD: ...when you meet with these guys next week, to straighten everything out --
WIRE ROSENDALL: I mean, I can’t tell them that you’re involved.
WIRE BERNARD: I know.
BEECKMAN: They were going to create a trucking company. They would have a real trucking company that's one of Maestro's clients that’s paying him these cash consulting fees.
WIRE ROSENDALL: ...you get paid a lump sum upon the construction piece and then you get paid another lump sum at the end of construction. And then another lump sum...
BEECKMAN: They were going to charge a 50 percent markup. We're talking millions and millions of millions of dollars. And this was all going to go to Bernard Kilpatrick with 10 percent to his girlfriend for administrative fees.
WIRE ROSENDALL: ...so it’d be two separate agreements and we’ll have one agreement with Akunna...
BEECKMAN: It's an obscene display of greed. Paying this guy 50 percent of the entire sludge hauling contract for nothing.
WIRE BERNARD: ...this is borderline illegal, we found out y’all doing this, and we don’t give a shit about that. We ain’t the FBI...
JOHN: Do you remember meeting Jim Rosendall at the Original Pancake House? Do you remember that?
BERNARD: Mhmm. That was wired, right?
JOHN: Again, Bernard Kilpatrick.
BERNARD: He had promised the money immediately. I did what I was supposed to do and he kept bullshitting with the money. Kwame didn't trust him at all. This guy came to me five times I can, you know you, you guys like Vegas? We can fly you down and do a weekend. Kwame said, man, I wouldn’t fly to Toledo with that guy. And I said you know you're absolutely right. He is shady. I think by then I knew something was coming. By then I knew something was coming.
JOHN: Until now, Jim Rosendall was just a guy trying to land a contract with the city… by paying bribes to the mayor's father. But after meeting Bernard that day at the Original Pancake House, Rosendall's life would take a sharp turn.
BEECKMAN: I pulled him over on the freeway one day.
JOHN: Again, Agent Beeckman.
BEECKMAN: And I said, “Look, here's what we’re going to do. I'm going to get in your truck with you. My partner will drive our car back downtown. I'm going to ride down to Detroit with you and keep you from making any phone calls and ruining your chances to cooperate and explain this all to you.”
ROSENDALL: When I was approached by the FBI, I thought it was a joke.
JOHN: Again, Jim Rosendall. This interview is from an FBI training video.
ROSENDALL: I thought, they’re in a black sedan, I thought it was one of the city cars. But soon figured out after seeing a badge and different things like that that it was the FBI. They wanted to talk to me.
BEECKMAN: I got in his truck. I said, “You’ve been under investigation for months. Your phone has been tapped by the FBI. We know that you're paying bribes. We know that you hatched this plot with Bernard Kilpatrick.” He was very impressed. He thought we bugged his pancakes.
ROSENDALL: I think I said at the time I need to get back with you tomorrow, I need to speak with my legal counsel. But I kind of knew at that point where things were heading. And to be honest it was probably a bit of a relief for me to bring this thing to a closure because it had taken on a life of its own and had spun out of control.
BEECKMAN: And by the time we got back to the office, he goes, “You know, I’m tired of everybody having their hands out and shaking me down.” And he said, “I’ll get my lawyer but I’m sure I’ll end up working with you.” And he did. He would still come to town and pay bribes. But this time he had a bunch of recording equipment in his truck and he was working for us. He had several meetings with Bernard Kilpatrick.
JOHN: Sometimes, Jim Rosendall would wear a wire when he met with Bernard. Other times, an FBI agent would film the two from a distance.
BEECKMAN: There’s one, they’re standing in a parking lot in Greektown, he was unloading a case of Cristal champagne out of his truck and handing it to Bernard Kilpatrick. Bernard Kilpatrick wanted this case of Cristal. But then he says, “Hey, I need a few hundred dollars too. Christmas is coming and I got to buy some Christmas presents for the grandkids.” So Rosendall takes this gum wrapper and he’s stuffing hundred dollar bills into this gum wrapper and he hands this gum wrapper to Bernard Kilpatrick. I mean, it's just petty greed, you know. “Give me the 100 bucks in your pocket.”
JOHN: There’s one instance where you’re seen taking money in a gum wrapper. Do you remember that?
BERNARD: I remember that. But I'm saying, there wasn’t no money in there.
JOHN: Again, Bernard.
BERNARD: How much it was it?
DREW: It was three hundred dollars.
JOHN: It was three hundred dollars.
BERNARD: Oh, okay. Well, I don't mean to demean three hundred dollars. Is that - Was that the Christmas thing at the car? Yeah, yeah, they had that on tape. Yeah, it was a couple of bottles of Cristal. I took, I took the -- yeah I took it out of his car and put it in the Escalade, that looked horrible.
DREW: And taking cash concealed in a gum wrapper --
BERNARD: That's like a Christmas present. Yeah ...
DREW: But it doesn't look good, right?
BERNARD: Oh, it doesn’t look good. I would say, I would say that.
JOHN: The FBI now had Bernard, the mayor’s father, on tape, taking cash and gifts. But Agent Beeckman wanted to see how far Bernard was willing to go to get his cut.
BEECKMAN: So we tell Rosendall, you know, just stop paying him. Let's see how this goes. You know? ‘Cause it makes for great conversation.
WIRETAP ROSENDALL: Sorry I can’t get your phone call at this time. I will be on vacation until January the 7th and will return all phone calls at that time. Thank you. [answering machine beep]
WIRETAP BERNARD: Yeah, man, this is B.K. I’d appreciate a call today. Vacation or no motherfucking vacation.
WIRE ROSENDALL: I can’t have you telling me that we should kill the deal. I mean, that just -- I can’t do that...
JOHN: Bernard threatened to sabotage the Synagro deal if he didn’t get paid. He met Rosendall at a restaurant to give him a piece of his mind.
BEECKMAN: And then Maestro tells him, hey we'll see, we'll see how far you get with your processing plant there when it takes you a year or two to get a building permit.
WIRE BERNARD: ...So all I’m saying is: If people put me in a position where I don’t have any options, then I go to the only options I have. I’ve been called a lot of things, but a fool ain’t really one of them...
BEECKMAN: He's just a consultant and a blood relative of the mayor. This guy doesn’t work for the city at all. Okay? He should not be able to threaten you with withholding a building permit. That's absurd.
WIRE BERNARD: ...I’ll walk away, but I’ll try to blow up the house. If you steal my TV and I can’t get it, I’ll just blow the house up. Blow my TV up too. You can’t have it either. That’s just the way I’ve always been. I got you to the table. I did that. Made this thing happen. And I’m out here in the cold with no money. And y’all get upset ‘cause I get mad? You told me you’d have a check for today. Last week.
WIRE ROSENDALL: You want a check or you want cash?
JOHN: At the restaurant, Rosendall tried to pay Bernard $2500 in cash. And Bernard got nervous.
WIRE BERNARD: What is that?
WIRE ROSENDALL: Twenty-five hundred.
WIRE BERNARD: No, let’s do it the other way.
WIRE ROSENDALL: All right, you want a check? All right.
JOHN: A few months later, Bernard met Rosendall outside his apartment building. The FBI caught the interaction on video.
BEECKMAN: Maestro's there, he’s wearing a sweatshirt with a, I think it’s like a sphinx on the front of it, like that. And he's quite a bit taller than Rosendall, so he's looking down at him. He steps into an alcove of his apartment building. It's cold in the alcove, you can kind of see their breath.
WIRE BERNARD: ..I’m talking in there and then you take that little twenty-five hundred and hand it to me in a restaurant.
WIRE ROSENDALL: I’m sorry, B.K. But listen to me --
WIRE BERNARD: I don’t know why you do shit like that.
WIRE ROSENDALL: Okay.
WIRE BERNARD: I don’t ever want anybody to see me take money from somebody...
JOHN: “I don’t ever want anybody to see me take some money from somebody.”
WIRE ROSENDALL: ...You know I’ve done everything that you guys have ever asked me to do. And I want you to know that, I mean, I care about you guys. And that’s the only reason I’m doing this. You know what I mean? So. That’s twenty-five. I just ran to the bank and got that a minute.
WIRE BERNARD: Okay.
WIRE ROSENDALL: And that’s from me. The mayor told me to work with you, so from here on out, you know, I’m hoping you guys got that all straight.
WIRE BERNARD: Yeah we going straight, we going straight.
WIRE ROSENDALL: I appreciate what you did here and I -- we’re all going forward. Let’s not look back.
WIRE BERNARD: Okay.
WIRE ROSENDALL: Thanks buddy. Take care.
JOHN: By now, word of the federal investigation had gotten back to the mayor’s office. Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick were starting to get suspicious.
WIRETAP BERNARD: What up?
WIRETAP KWAME KILPATRICK: All right, um, nothing, I’m on the way to the airport… I just wanted to say something to you...
BEECKMAN: One day we're up on a wiretap on Bernard Kilpatrick.
JOHN: Again, agent Beeckman.
BEECKMAN: Kwame Kilpatrick is sitting on a private jet. He's getting ready to leave town and he's trying to call his dad and warn him to stay away from who they call the little white guy.
WIRETAP KWAME: That little guy -- you gotta stay away from that little guy for a minute.
WIRETAP BERNARD: Little guy?
WIRETAP KWAME: Yeah.
BEECKMAN: He says I need you to stay away from that little white guy for a minute. And Bernard Kilpatrick is completely confused. He has no idea who Kwame Kilpatrick is talking about. And he starts guessing and they're both trying to talk in code. It's like a bad episode of “The Sopranos.”
WIRETAP BERNARD: Huh?
WIRETAP KWAME: That guy that keeps being your guy.
WIRETAP BERNARD: From Chi?
WIRETAP KWAME: No. Him too, but no, the other guy…
BEECKMAN: Bernard Kilpatrick says, You mean the guy from Chi? You know like we can't figure out what Chicago is. No, him too. But no.
WIRETAP BERNARD: The little guy?
WIRETAP KWAME: Your favorite white brother.
WIRETAP BERNARD: You mean, not, not, you mean the Arab?
WIRETAP KWAME: No.
WIRETAP BERNARD: Oh, oh, you’re talking from up the way, like Ferris State.
WIRETAP KWAME: No.
WIRETAP BERNARD: No, you ain’t talking about that.
BEECKMAN: And they never do figure this out! And Kwame could easily tell his dad, stay away from this guy and that’d be that.
WIRETAP BERNARD: I have no idea.
BEECKMAN: Instead, he doesn't want to say it on the phone because he's trying to hide that relationship and he's trying to hide the warning. If Kilpatrick were to say now, “Hey there's nothing wrong with this, I was not doing something illegal.” Really? Why are you talking in code like a mobster on a telephone?
JOHN: Operation Bombay Dreams had been going on for six years. Assistant US Attorney Mark Chutkow.
CHUTKOW: I mean at that time, there had been a lot of talk in the community that there's this cloud hanging over this city. People were aware of the federal investigation. So we wanted to basically get things going so that the city could move on to its next chapter.
NEWS ARCHIVAL: The sweeping 38 count indictment accuses Kwame Kilpatrick and his cohorts of a wide ranging racketeering conspiracy involving extortion, bribery and fraud...
JOHN: On December 15, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Kwame Kilpatrick, Bernard Kilpatrick, and three others with running a criminal enterprise—a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations case, or RICO.
ARCHIVAL REPORTER: ...a 38-count RICO indictment. Now RICO is used for criminal enterprises and usually against organized crime figures. This is overwhelming. This guy is really in very bad shape.
JOHN: Kwame Kilpatrick was no longer fighting for his political career or his marriage. This time, he was fighting for his freedom...against the full force of the federal government.
ARCHIVAL KWAME: You know, I’m ready for this fight. You know, before I felt so condemned and guilty ‘cause I was. I cheated. I lied about it. But this time I’m not guilty and I feel very strongly about fighting for myself and fighting for what is right and the truth.
BERNARD: The only demand that Bernard Kilpatrick made, speaking in third person, was, you better give me my goddamn money. We got a deal. And you'd better pay my motherfucking money.
JOHN: Did you see any conflict of interest with your son being mayor and your business profiting from that?
BERNARD: No. My son being mayor was kind of like a culmination of a lot of work I put in for years. I didn't see a criminal conflict of interest in that.
JOHN: I’m wondering, what would it have been exploiting that relationship for financial gain and being illegal? Where's the line?
BERNARD: The line is operational intent. I never went to Kwame to ask him to help me and my business. I never did that.
JOHN: So you never went to him and said, you know, “Hey, this guy needs a contract. I’m working with these folks.” You didn’t --
BERNARD: Absolutely -- I didn't have to.
DREW: They’re very serious charges, I mean RICO comes with a very heavy sentence.
JOHN: Organized crime. It says that you were part of a criminal enterprise.
JOHN: The Kilpatrick Criminal Enterprise.
BERNARD: All of that. And I remember saying, boy, this is such bullshit. This is such bullshit.
JOHN: Next episode… Kwame Kilpatrick goes on trial.
ARCHIVAL REPORTER: Former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick says he is not going to prison again. This just a week before hundreds of prospective jurors will report to the federal courthouse for jury selection in Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial.
JOHN: That’s coming up in two weeks...on Crimetown.
JOHN: Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify.
This episode was produced by Samantha Lee, Austin Mitchell, Rob Szypko, Soraya Shockley, and me, John White.
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, Max White, Randy Lundquist, Peter Karmanos and everyone who shared their stories with us. Detroit’s an amazing place, and we’re honored to tell a small part of its story.
Alex Blumberg is the podfather. Alex, it’s J.W. I’d appreciate a call today. Vacation or no motherfucking vacation.
BERNARD: More and more y’all sounding like FBI, but it's ok.
DREW: You know we have to ask…
BERNARD: I know y’all have to ask.
DREW: We’re trying to do the whole picture, right.
JOHN: We want to get the whole picture.
BERNARD: And it just long as it -- long as you understand that we looking at this thing -- one person is looking through a telescope this end and the other person’s looking at it through that end.
DREW: Well that’s why we have to ask you these questions...
BERNARD: I understand.
DREW: …so that we have your statement and your comment on all these allegations.
JOHN: So...what is Synagro?
JOHN: Synagro. ‘Scuse me.