Karl Kado told jurors he felt threatened by Kwame Kilpatrick and personally delivered money to the ex-mayor multiple times.
DETROIT — A businessman who held contracts at Detroit's convention center said Monday he was a "hostage" who felt compelled to pay thousands of dollars to then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father or lose work.
Karl 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.
The Kilpatricks and a third man are accused of extortion, bribery and other crimes.
Kado is a crucial witness at the corruption trial, which began in September. After several days of testimony about the technical nitty-gritty of water department contracts, the evidence is returning to payoffs — loads of cash stashed in brown bags or simply pulled from a suit coat.
Kado, 72, said he paid Kwame Kilpatrick when asked for money and sometimes delivered it in person. His company had electrical and maintenance contracts at Cobo Center, home of the annual international auto show, as well as other businesses there.
"If you don't pay money, you are going to risk everything," Kado told jurors. "It's like extortion."
The Iraqi native, who moved to Detroit in the 1970s, said he felt like a "hostage at Cobo."
"A contract at Cobo is very, very big," Kado said. "The director of Cobo can kick you out in two hours."
He said he paid $200,000 to $300,000 to Bernard Kilpatrick, including a final $100,000 payment in 2005. Kado said he told him, "I'm tired of this."
He said he paid Bernard Kilpatrick solely because he was the mayor's father, not because of the elder Kilpatrick's role as a consultant.
"Consultant for what? What do I need a consultant for?" Kado testified.
The government described Kado's cooperation in the corruption investigation as "extraordinary," assistance that earned him a light sentence of probation for a tax crime in 2010. He wore a recording device at times.
Kado also made payments to two Cobo directors, Lou Pavledes and Glenn Blanton. They pleaded guilty to charges related to the investigation and were sent to prison.
Defense attorneys began cross-examining Kado during the last 30 minutes of trial Monday. The grilling will resume Tuesday.
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.