George Kastanes talked to The Detroit News from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts. He told the newspaper he testified about the payoff to Bernard Kilpatrick and a demand for $80,000 from a Detroit businessman during testimony before a federal grand jury.
Kastanes and Abner McWhorter were partners in Paramount Land Holdings. The company borrowed $10 million to be used to buy and renovate 1,400 foreclosed houses in Detroit, but the deal went sour and McWhorter killed himself last year.
A South Carolina resident, Kastanes said he only learned of the bribe from McWhorter after the pension fund declared the loan was in default. Kastanes said he went "nuts," telling his partner he is not a crook, and McWhorter replied, ""This is how we do business in Detroit.'"
John Shea, a lawyer representing Bernard Kilpatrick, said any payments were for work done by Kilpatrick's consulting firm, Maestro Associates. He said Kastanes' story does not pass the smell test, especially because it has only become public with Kastanes "on the lam at a resort island."
"You got a guy who can't be cross-examined who says the only reason we got to fleece the pension board was because we bribed a family member who happened to have a last name that is among the most vilified in southeast Michigan history," Shea said.
Bernard Kilpatrick and his son, Kwame, have been indicted on federal charges.