If jurors hear 'Kwame Kilpatrick,' it'd taint Macomb bribe defendant, lawyer tells court

October 12, 2021, 2:20 PM

A suburban Detroit attorney facing federal corruption charges wants to keep three notorious Detroiters' names out of his trial.

Kwame Kilpatrick is a toxic name, a defense lawyer says. (File photo)

The Detroit News reports on an unusual court filing:

Mentioning the names of [Kwame] Kilpatrick and [past] Detroit City councilmembers Monica Conyers and Alonzo Bates risks unfairly prejudicing lawyer Jay Schwartz, his attorney argued in a court filing. He wants to prevent FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman from mentioning the corrupt Detroit politicians during Schwartz's trial next month. ...

Schwartz, 55, of Northville is accused of bribing convicted Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds with cash and free legal services and helping conceal the bribes. The bribery conspiracy ran from 2014-16 when [Chuck] Rizzo was trying to secure and maintain an $18-million trash-hauling contract in Clinton Township, according to the government.

When Beeckman testified two years ago to grand jurors who indicted Schwartz on bribery and bribery conspiracy charges, the FBI ageny cited his role in successful prosecutions of Kilpatrick, Conyers and Bates to prison. 

Using those names during November's trial could "mislead and confuse the jury," defense lawyer Gerald Gleeson of the Miller Canfield office in Troy is quoted at saying in his motion. Such references by Beeckman, he adds, would "conjure up the jury’s likely awareness of news in Detroit over the past ten years to suggest that, like the disgraced Kilpatrick, Conyer and Bates, Mr. Schwartz is also worthy of conviction."

Schwartz "served as Rizzo's business lawyer as the trash mogul built a sprawling empire across Metro Detroit," Robert Snell of The News notes. The Oakland defendant could be imprisoned up to 10 years if found guilty.

Ex-Mayor Kilpatrick was sentenced in 2013 to 28 years in federal prison "for turning Detroit City Hall into a criminal enterprise," as Snell puts it. Donald Trump commuted the sentence in January on his final night at the White House.

Monica Conyers, sentenced to more than three years in 2010 for bribery, served 27 months at a federal prison camp in West Virginia.

Jurors convicted Bates in 2006 of four counts of theft from the city and one count of bank fraud for having "ghost employees" on his council payroll. Before his six-day trial on those felonies, Bates pleaded guilty to failing to file federal tax returns for four years. A federal judge in 2007 sentenced him to 33 months in prison, plus a $10,000 fine and $91,000 in restitution to the city.

Read more:  The Detroit News

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