DETROIT (AP) – A fundraiser for Kwame Kilpatrick told jurors Thursday that she regularly pulled money from her bra to pay kickbacks to the then-Detroit mayor, whom she considered like her own son.
Emma Bell at times struggled as she explained her dealings with Kilpatrick. Four years after he left office, he is on trial for tax crimes, conspiracy, fraud, extortion and bribery in a sweeping indictment of his nearly two terms at city hall.
Bell was paid more than $900,000 while raising money for Kilpatrick’s campaign fund and a separate nonprofit fund, from 2003 to 2008. In turn, she said she turned over more than $200,000 to him for his own use, typically in amounts of less than $10,000.
Bell told jurors that she would meet privately with Kilpatrick and produce money hidden in her bra.
“I don’t want to get indelicate here,” defense attorney James Thomas said on cross-examination. “But are you telling the jury you took the money out of your bra in that closed room and gave it to him?”
Bell replied: “I would take money out of my bra in front of my son, sir.”
On Wednesday, a day ahead of Bell’s testimony, jurors learned about her warts, including a gambling habit and tax evasion. Bell pleaded guilty a year ago and agreed to testify against Kilpatrick.
“If I sit up here and lie, I’m making it worse. … I’m not lying,” Bell testified Thursday. “There’s only two people in this room, other than God, that knows what happened. And that’s Mr. Kilpatrick and myself.”
Bell’s relationship with Kilpatrick is a small but significant part of the government’s case against the ex-mayor. Kilpatrick’s father and two other people are also on trial. An alternate juror was promoted to the jury for the second time this week. There are four alternates left in a trial that is expected to extend into 2013.
Kilpatrick, 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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