New witness says there was a Manoogian party
Detroit — A second stripper claims the rumored Manoogian Mansion party was real and involved drugs and a fistfight between former first lady Carlita Kilpatrick and exotic dancer Tamara “Strawberry” Greene, according to a federal court filing unsealed Sunday.
The stripper, identified as Tamika Ruffin, dropped the bombshell claim in a civil lawsuit filed by Greene’s family accusing the city and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of quashing an investigation into her death.
Her testimony is part of a multi-pronged attack by Greene family attorney Norman Yatooma against attempts by the city of Detroit and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to dismiss the case.
Ruffin spun a sordid tale. She testified she was offered $1,000 to perform at the Manoogian party for Kilpatrick and friends, attended by about 10 uniformed police officers, and filled with cocaine and marijuana.
Carlita Kilpatrick crashed the party, Ruffin said, storming into the mayoral mansion and interrupting Greene giving Kwame Kilpatrick a lap dance.
“What the (expletive) is going on here? Who is this (expletive)? (Expletive), get the (expletive) up off my husband,” she said, according to Ruffin’s testimony.
Carlita Kilpatrick and Greene then got into a fistfight, according to Ruffin’s deposition.
Ruffin said she saw Greene and Carlita Kilpatrick scuffle. Greene appeared to be winning the fight until Carlita Kilpatrick struck Greene with what appeared to be either a “two-by-four,” a “baton” or a “table leg,” according to the filing.
“It was big,” Ruffin testified.
During the fight, Ruffin fled, ducking behind a car parked a few houses away. While hiding, she saw three police cars arrive at the Manoogian.
Greene later stayed at Ruffin’s home for three weeks, during which time Carlita Kilpatrick repeatedly called Greene’s cell phone, threatening her, according to Ruffin’s deposition.
Ruffin could not be reached for comment Sunday. Yatooma said he has no idea of her whereabouts.
“I can’t get in touch with her. She ran from us,” he said in an e-mail response to The News. “We had to file a motion to have her held in contempt of court before we could get her into deposition. She was, and is, absolutely terrified.”
Neither Kilpatrick lawyer James Thomas nor the mayor’s publicist, Mike Paul, returned phone calls Sunday seeking comment.
Ruffin is the second stripper tied to the long-rumored party. Paytra Williams, a Detroit police officer who investigators say moonlighted as an exotic dancer under the name Almond Joy, is said to have danced at the party and gave a 41/2-hour deposition in April.
Williams’ name is largely absent from the Yatooma filing, which was filed last week but unsealed Sunday.
Several of Yatooma’s witnesses have come under scrutiny for their credibility.
Ruffin’s tale is one of several new allegations to surface in the case. The city and Kilpatrick have asked Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen to dismiss the case, arguing that five years and numerous depositions have failed to prove any allegations.
City attorneys have maintained Greene was killed because of a drug feud.
The 5-year-old case has captivated the public with allegations of wrongdoing by a host of local and state government leaders, including Attorney General Mike Cox.
Cox investigated the party but concluded it was urban legend.
He could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Among the other revelations in Sunday’s filing: Two of Kilpatrick’s bodyguards, Loronzo Jones and Greg Martin, were caught on videotape attending Greene’s funeral. The Rev. Kenneth Hampton of Grace Bible Church in Detroit gave a copy of the tape to Detroit Police executives, according to the filing.
Yet the videotape and funeral registry are missing from the homicide file, Yatooma wrote.
Hampton gave a deposition in which he said he provided copies of the funeral videotape to then-Assistant Detroit Police Chief Harold Cureton and Lt. Billy Jackson, both of whom oversaw homicide investigators looking into Greene’s death.
Hampton also said he visited police headquarters five times inquiring about the investigation’s progress. Jackson testified that while the video should have been part of the homicide file, it was not there when he reviewed it.
Kilpatrick had an extramarital affair with Sheryl Robinson Wood, the former federal monitor overseeing reforms in the Detroit Police Department.
In making the accusation, Yatooma cited a deposition the former mayor gave in the case.
“Incredibly, Kilpatrick testified that he had no recollection of how many times he had sex with Wood, the location of the trysts, or even the year in which they occurred,” Yatooma wrote.
Wood, who was named the federal monitor in 2003, resigned in July 2009 after the FBI discovered text messages — later deemed by a judge as “inappropriate” — between her and Kilpatrick.
The city wants Robinson Wood and her firms to repay more than $10 million in legal fees paid for overseeing police reforms.
Until Sunday, no one had publicly accused the pair of having a relationship.
Shows pattern, says attorney
Yatooma said the affair illustrates how the disgraced mayor and his administration interfered with police activities, including the probe into Greene’s unsolved death.
“This case involves proof of a decision made by the Mayor of the City of Detroit — and enforced as the unwritten policy of the DPD — not to investigate any matter, nor otherwise pursue any inquiry, pertaining to events that occurred at the Manoogian Mansion involving Greene. …”Doing so would inevitably expose the prior wrongdoing on the part of the mayor, his wife and his friends in the DPD, while at the same time revealing to the public that all of them had viable motives to commit murder,” Yatooma wrote in the filing.
City spokesman Dan Lijana declined comment Sunday.
Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University, offered some insight into the filing.
It’s not enough for Yatooma to prove a cover-up existed, Henning said. Yatooma also has to show the cover-up prevented the city from identifying Greene’s killer, he added.
“That’s the toughest part here,” Henning said. “It’s not an easy case.”
The filing spins an account of how, in 2002, a newly elected Kilpatrick appointed friends to key city posts to watch his back and those same people eventually “turned a blind eye to misconduct occurring within Kilpatrick’s inner circle.”
Yatooma notes how the probe was hindered by missing police files and investigators blocked from pursuing leads. Sgt. Odell Godbold, who found himself on a newly created assignment working out of the basement of the Fisher Building, testified people received “multiple, multiple promotions as a result” of hindering the Greene homicide investigation.
Two witnesses discounted
The filing repeated claims from several people, including two that have been discounted.
Wilson Kay Jr., a convicted felon with a history of mental illness, said he worked security at the party and signed an affidavit that he saw Carlita Kilpatrick assault Greene.
Kay also said Cox attended the party and received a lap dance while he was there — an allegation Cox has denied.
And the filing relies on a deposition from fired city emergency medical technician Cenobio Chapa. Chapa claimed he was at Detroit Receiving Hospital in the fall 2002 when an injured woman showed up for treatment. The woman claimed to have been assaulted by Carlita Kilpatrick, he said.
Chapa, who was fired after airing his claim, lost a whistle-blower lawsuit against the city earlier this month.
According to Sunday’s filing, the Kilpatrick administration had an established practice of interfering with and shutting down investigations into possible wrongdoing by Kilpatrick and his inner circle.
“The Greene case illustrates what happens when those responsible for the enforcement of the laws and the protection of the public are themselves the lawbreakers,” Yatooma wrote.
The civil lawsuit accuses Detroit and Kilpatrick of quashing an investigation into Greene’s death in 2003. Greene, 27, was killed in a drive-by shooting several months after she was linked to the rumored but never proven party at the mayor’s mansion in fall 2002.
The filing also sheds light on the recent deposition of the mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, who repeatedly refused to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Bernard Kilpatrick refused to address whether he talked about the party and rumored assault with his son or whether his son admitted covering up the assault and Greene’s death.
Yatooma’s claims of a cover-up are supported by what he says are several missing pieces of evidence, including Greene’s cell phone, e-mails from Kilpatrick and his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, statements from her co-workers, Crime Stoppers tips and handwritten notes by investigators.