Kwame Kilpatrick's Dad at Center of Federal Probe

Phone taps, bottles of Cristal, and a fictitious consulting firm. A regular day for Detroit's former first family?

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For the media, the Kilpatricks are the gift that keeps on giving. Their numerous political scandals and inept back-door dealings would be comical if they weren't so tragic. The latest in a long line of offenses allegedly committed by Bernard Kilpatrick, the former mayor's dad, puts him at the center of a corruption investigation. No charges have been filed, but new court documents reveal that the FBI has spent the last five years quietly building its case against both father and son.

The Free Press has learned that at least nine businesspeople have testified to a grand jury or told federal investigators in interviews that they paid Bernard Kilpatrick, who ran a consulting firm called Maestro Associates, tens of thousands of dollars to try to get contracts from the city run by his son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

FBI agents don't believe Bernard Kilpatrick actually was consulting. They think he was paid for access to Detroit's mayor.

The revelations, from documents and interviews by the Free Press, paint the most detailed portrait yet of the slow-building, cat-and-mouse game between FBI agents and their quarry.

They detail payoffs and perks that investigators say Bernard Kilpatrick received from contractors and other people seeking city business, including tickets to a prizefight in Las Vegas, Cristal champagne and a $7,000 discount on a leased Cadillac Escalade.

The investigation, some five years old, is still ongoing. There have been no charges against either Kilpatrick in the federal corruption probe. Kwame Kilpatrick declined to comment when reached on his cell phone Friday. Bernard Kilpatrick didn't respond to requests for comment in recent weeks.

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