Boat records sought in slain stripper case
Detroit — A lawyer representing the family of slain stripper Tamara “Strawberry” Greene wants the city to turn over records that could prove whether city boats were used to ship strippers and guests to a rumored Manoogian Mansion party.
Dozens of tipsters have claimed city boats were used to transport partiers and strippers to the Manoogian, which backs up to the Detroit River, Greene family lawyer Gary Hermanson wrote in a court filing late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
But the city has failed to turn over the boat logs and other city documents, a failure that should result in the city paying a “substantial” sanction, Hermanson wrote.
“How many more times must the plaintiffs have to come before this court and point out the glaring deficiencies in the city’s misleading and half-baked responses to document discovery requests that should have been answered fully and properly many months ago,” Hermanson wrote.
The boat rumor is the latest allegation to surface in the long-running lawsuit filed by Greene’s family, which accuses Detroit and ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of obstructing an investigation into the woman’s 2003 death.
Meanwhile Wednesday, a city attorney argued Detroit should not be penalized for failing to preserve Kilpatrick’s e-mails.
The e-mails were automatically deleted years before Greene’s lawyers asked for them, the city attorney, John Schapka, wrote.
A federal judge scheduled a hearing Dec. 1 before deciding whether to sanction the city.
Kilpatrick’s e-mails were automatically deleted by the city’s computer server years earlier, when it was unforeseeable that the controversial mayor’s messages could hold evidentiary value, Schapka wrote.
“Such foresight would constitute clairvoyance,” Schapka wrote.
Since the e-mails had been deleted, and because Kilpatrick never saved e-mails on his desktop computer’s hard drive, the location of Kilpatrick’s computer is immaterial, Schapka wrote.
Schapka said the computer was thrown away in 2008.
Kilpatrick said this week he left the computer for his successor, Ken Cockrel Jr.
Cockrel has said he doesn’t remember receiving any computer from Kilpatrick.
Another Greene family attorney, Norman Yatooma, has requested a default judgment against the city for intentionally throwing away Kilpatrick’s computer. He also said the city should pay a sizable fine.
Schapka’s filing includes an affidavit from a city employee saying he found e-mail messages belonging to Kilpatrick.
Terrence Sims, a Detroit employee who oversees the city’s e-mail system, recently supervised a search for Kilpatrick’s e-mail, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Greene family lawyers want Kilpatrick’s e-mails from September 2002 through June 2003 to see if there is any proof that the ex-mayor or city obstructed the homicide investigation.
While Sims’ search failed to find e-mails from September 2002 through June 2003, other e-mails were found and extracted, Sims wrote in the affidavit.
The affidavit and Schapka filing came hours after Hermanson questioned whether boats ferried partiers and strippers to the rumored Manoogian party. In particular, he wants activity logs and run sheets for Sept. 4, 2002.
The Sept. 4 date showed up on a cryptic entry in the city’s fire boat log, which was turned over to Greene family lawyers earlier.
The log refers to a “Mason McBride” party and a rendezvous between a city fire boat and the private charter boat Infinity near the Ambassador Bridge, according to Hermanson’s filing.
Yet when the city turned over additional documents Nov. 9, there were no activity logs for the city boat for any weekdays in 2002, Hermanson wrote.
Mason-McBride Inc. is an insurance and financial services firm based in Troy. Scott McBride, the company’s secretary/treasurer, said his firm chartered the Infinity for a lunch cruise on or around Sept. 4, 2002.
The firm used the Infinity for a lunch cruise for employees and clients, McBride said.
“It had nothing to do with the city or Manoogian,” he told The Detroit News.