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Home News Afro Briefs Originally published December 05, 2012

Businessman Says Ex-Detroit Mayor Got Free Flights

by Associated Press

  •   Click on the photo to view additional Photos.
    In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick makes his way to U.S. Federal Court in Detroit. Businessman Karl Kado, who held contracts at Detroit's convention center, said Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 that he was a “hostage” who felt compelled to pay thousands of dollars to then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father or lose work. Kado told jurors that he personally delivered $5,000 to $10,000 to Kilpatrick “three or four times.” He said he also delivered money through a top mayoral aide and separately paid $200,000 to $300,000 to Kilpatrick's father, Bernard. Kado is a crucial witness at the corruption trial, which began in September. Photo Credit/David Coates, The Detroit News (AP File Photo)

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A businessman testified Wednesday that then-Detroit  Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was a frequent flier aboard his private planes, taking 20 round-trip flights worth nearly $400,000 but never paying a dime in return.

Tony Soave said he was uncomfortable with the arrangement but didn't want to cross the mayor and jeopardize any work with the city. He was a government witness on the 35th day of a corruption trial, a sweeping case of alleged extortion, bribery and rigged contracts during Kilpatrick's nearly seven years in office.

"It's hard to turn a mayor down," said Soave, the head of Soave Enterprises, based in Detroit. "I didn't want to get on the wrong side of him. I wanted to keep him happy."

Soave said Kilpatrick, sometimes accompanied by family, took 20 round-trip flights aboard his planes to destinations that included the Bahamas, Florida, New York and Texas. He said he finally asked about being reimbursed for the travel, which was worth $389,000.

Kilpatrick "said he would look into it," Soave recalled. "I was getting concerned. It was getting to be more than a little bit."

But the mayor never paid, said Soave, who also paid for a $6,000 Cartier watch, a $1,200 purse and an $800 pair of shoes during a New York shopping spree. He said Kilpatrick gave the watch to his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, as a Christmas present.

Soave said he first met Kilpatrick in 2002, after the newly elected mayor took office, and asked why the city was holding up a $50 million sewer contract awarded to his company.

"He told me I had the wrong subcontractor," Soave testified. "I think I asked, 'What's the right one?' He told me Ferguson was the right one. I told him, 'OK, I'll make a change.'"

Soave was referring to Kilpatrick's pal, Bobby Ferguson, who also is on trial along with Bernard Kilpatrick. Defense attorneys will cross-examine Soave on Thursday.

Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat whose mother is former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was elected mayor in 2001. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by lying in a civil case about having sex with an aide. He subsequently served 14 months in prison for violating his probation in that case.



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