Reporting Vickie Thomas
Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and a racketeering conspiracy. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick and Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson are also on trial in Detroit federal court. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion.
Trial Update By Vickie Thomas
Avinash Rachmale head of Lakeshore Engineering testified that he paid $1.7 million to Johnson Consulting Services, a company set up by contractor Bobby Ferguson’s wife.
He said there was another 1.2 million paid but there were no invoices and no receipts given. He says requests for payments from Bobby Ferguson became frequent.
He says he had nothing against Kilpatrick and supported him for mayor. He thought he was a dynamic person who could lead the city well. He served on the transition team. He supported his second run for mayor. He gave $25,000 to the Civic fund. He also provided space for Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick’s local office.
He also backed up the testimony of his former partner Thomas Hardiman. They told jurors they had two contracts cancelled, totaling 15 million dollars after they refused to cut Ferguson in on the deals.
During cross-examination by Ferguson’s attorney Gerald Evelyn, Rachmale testified that Lakeshore went from being a $15 million company in 2002 to a $250 million company in 2007.
Defense attorneys said Lakeshore made $157 million during the Kilpatrick administration.
Tuesday marked Rachmale’s fourth day on the witness stand. During re-direct, he told the court that of the $157 million take in by Lakeshore, 92% went out to sub contractors, leaving Lakeshore with about $13 million.
Darryl Latimer, the Deputy Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was next up on the witness stand. He helped the government score points with his testimony. He said former director Victor Mercado, who took a plea deal earlier in the trial, dictated an email that Latimer was told to send to Mercado. It recommended the cancellation of a contract that Lakeshore appeared to be headed Lakeshore’s way.
But over the next two days, under cross-examination by Bobby Ferguson’s attorney Mike Rataj, Latimer testified that two contracts that Lakeshore thought had been awarded had not actually finished what’s often a lengthy and expensive process for contractors, The deals had not been approved by the Detroit City Council.
Best Moment Outside the Courthouse: When Kilpatrick reunited with a man he served time with at the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. It was the first time the two had seen each other since swapping prison food during breakfast and lunch.
Spotted at the Courthouse This Week: Political Consultant Sam Riddle. He is wrapping up his 37 month sentence on bribery charges stemming from the Detroit city hall corruption scandal. He was there attending probation orientation.
Quote of the Week: “It was getting too goofy.” That’s the reason why Kim Harris with the city’s Human Rights department says he told his now deceased boss that he didn’t want to be involved with what he saw as actions by the mayor and others that tampered with the contacting process. The comment came after Harris says a competitor of contractor Bobby Ferguson had its certification as a Detroit Headquartered Business revoked and then restore. Defense lawyers say the certification should have been revoked because the company is actually based in Columbus, OH.
Up Next: Former Cobo Hall contractor Karl Kado who pled guilty to bribery is expected to take the stand Monday. Defense attorneys claim Kado has dementia and will not be a credible witness.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 for continuing trial coverage.