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Kilpatrick prosecutor accused of beating mother

George Hunter
The Detroit News

The federal prosecutor who helped put former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in prison, and who is prosecuting corruption in Macomb County, is the target of a police investigation himself after being charged last month with beating up his 78-year-old mother, who was living with him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta was arraigned April 12 in 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge stemming from the alleged April 9 incident in his Oakland Township home, according to the district court’s website.

An Oakland County Sheriff’s report obtained by The Detroit News shows family members gave police different reasons about what sparked the argument that allegedly escalated into violence.

Bullotta’s sister told sheriff’s deputies it started over a dispute about their dogs. But Bullotta told investigators his mother was upset with him because he dates a black woman.

Bullotta also told deputies his mother has dementia and faked being assaulted. He said he was merely trying to help her up after she’d “pretended to fall,” the report said.

Bullotta’s mother is living with her daughter, the police report said. He is prohibited from having contact with his mother, according to the 52-3 District Court website.

Bullotta is the lead prosecutor in an ongoing public corruption case involving Macomb County politicians. He is a former Los Angeles County prosecutor assigned to a division that handled gang-related homicides. He became an assistant U.S. attorney in 1997 and is an author. In 2011, he published the fiction novel “Hard Core.”

Bullotta is a member of the elite public corruption unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit and was one of the lead prosecutors in the landmark racketeering trial of Kilpatrick. He helped send the former Detroit mayor to federal prison for 28 years and Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson for 21 years.

Bullotta’s attorney, Pamella Szydlak, said in a statement Tuesday: “Michael Bullotta has an unassailable track record as a federal prosecutor for protecting the Detroit metropolitan community from violent crimes and corrupt politicians at the highest level. It is truly unfortunate that Michael’s continual willingness to provide care for his elderly mother has resulted in an unfounded misdemeanor charge.

“Michael believes with all his heart in the American criminal justice system, one that he has spent his life selflessly serving,” Szydlak said. “He knows he will be exonerated and prays more that his family will be repaired.”

The domestic violence charge is a 93-day misdemeanor. A jury trial is scheduled for July 7.

Acting U.S. Attorney Dan Lemisch said Bullotta remains on the job.

“We have faith that the system will produce a just outcome,” Lemisch said in an email. “In the meantime, we have the utmost confidence in AUSA Bullotta’s ability to carry out the important work of the office.”

Prominent Detroit defense attorney Steve Fishman said Bullotta is an honest, honorable person.

“I have had numerous cases with Mike over the years. He is a man of integrity,” Fishman said. “You can take his word to the bank. I support him completely in this situation.”

The police report shows Bullotta’s son, whose age was redacted, called his aunt — Bullotta’s sister — to report the alleged abuse. The sister then phoned police, the report said.

The report, which refers to Bullotta by his little-used first name, Ronald, says his sister “states that Ronald was arguing with (his mother) about the dogs and at some point he pushed her to the ground and slapped her on both sides of her face. She went on to say that he took her cellphone away from her and refused to return it.”

But when deputies interviewed Bullotta, he gave them a different account of what started the alleged disagreement. He also told police he didn’t hit his mother.

“Ronald states that his mother has dementia though he admits she has not been diagnosed by an actual doctor,” the report said. “He states (his mother) was ‘harassing’ his son ... at some point Ronald ‘went to intervene and she pretended to fall.’ He states that he helped her up and she accused him of hitting her.

“(Bullotta) states that (his mother) is unhappy with him and his African American girlfriend,” the report said. “He went on to say that (his sister) does not want Ronald and (his mother) to live together and she is very dramatic. Ronald denies striking his mother in any manner.”

Bullotta’s sister said his son told a different story. She informed investigators the boy “witnessed his father push and slap (his mother) in the face,” the report said.

The alleged victim “did not have any obvious signs of injury or redness and refused medical evaluation,” the April 9 report said. “(She) states that she does not want to ‘press charges’ because she is not ‘scared of him.’ ” The mother also “refused to provide a written statement,” the report said.

The deputies at the scene told Bullotta to return his mother’s phone, and he complied, according to the report.

Bullotta posted $3,000 bond after his arraignment, the court’s website says. Bond conditions include “no direct or indirect contact with (his mother);” and that he “not assault/beat/molest/intimidate or threaten anyone, verbally or nonverbally, or be otherwise involved in any crime.”

Bullotta also is prohibited from possessing a firearm “or other dangerous weapon,” and from leaving Michigan without court permission.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN