DETROIT (AP) — A businessman who pleaded guilty in an ongoing corruption probe told federal investigators he paid $100,000 in bribes to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to secure lucrative contracts for Detroit's Cobo Center, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday.
Former Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado of West Bloomfield has also told the FBI he paid $290,000 to Kilpatrick's father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and thousands more to a close mayoral aide, the newspaper reported.
Kado told authorities he paid Kwame Kilpatrick in four or five installments of about $20,000 each, the Free Press said in its report, which cited its review of government documents and interviews with people the newspaper said were familiar with the probe. The newspaper did not identify the people.
Kado, who is awaiting sentencing for paying bribes to protect multimillion-dollar Cobo Center contracts, told investigators he sometimes delivered the money in envelopes to Kilpatrick's City Hall office. Other times, Kilpatrick dropped by Cobo Center — Detroit 's downtown convention center — to get the cash, Kado allegedly told authorities.
The newspaper said the allegations indicate that the government has for the first time secured the cooperation of someone who says he gave payoffs directly to ex-mayor Kilpatrick.
Kado had exclusive, no-bid janitorial and electrical-services contracts at Cobo Center and a sundry shop at the convention hall.
Neither Kilpatrick nor his father have been charged by federal prosecutors.
Kilpatrick's attorney, James Thomas, told the Free Press that he did not know of any bribery accusations against his client in the federal corruption probe. He declined to comment to The Associated Press on Sunday beyond what he had told the newspaper.
"I am not aware of any direct payment that was ever made to Kwame Kilpatrick," Thomas told the paper. "And frankly, I'd be surprised to see it. But I'm not going to try my case in the media. There hasn't even been an indictment yet. If Mr. Kilpatrick is charged, we will try our case in the court and not in the press."
Messages seeking comment were left Sunday with the FBI and an attorney for Kado.
Kado, 69, declined to be interviewed Friday by the Free Press, as did his lawyer. Bernard Kilpatrick did not respond to interview requests from the Free Press.
A telephone listing for Bernard Kilpatrick could not be found Sunday.
Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty in 2008 to obstruction of justice and no contest to assault in a plea deal that rose from a text-messaging sex scandal and perjured testimony at a 2007 trial involving police officers. He resigned after nearly seven years as mayor, served 99 days in jail and agreed to restitution.
Authorities obtained the alleged bribery information against Kilpatrick as part of a years-long investigation in Detroit and Southfield that has produced a series of public corruption charges and 10 guilty pleas, the Free Press said.
In pursuing Kilpatrick, investigators tracked cash moving in and out of bank accounts and wiretapped the phone of his father, among others, while slowly trying to build a case, the newspaper reported.
FBI agents contend in sworn statements that they have grounds to believe Kilpatrick and his associates used the mayor's office to run a criminal enterprise — a term normally used in organized crime and racketeering cases.
It is unclear what, if any, evidence federal authorities have to corroborate Kado's claim that he bribed the ex-mayor.
But the Free Press said the records it reviewed show Kado began to secretly cooperate with the government's long-running investigation of City Hall corruption well before he was charged in August 2008 with felony tax violations in connection with bribes at Cobo Center .