DETROIT (AP/WWJ) — A close aide to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says looking out for the interests of a contractor was a regular part of his job.
Derrick Miller returned to the witness stand Tuesday in Kilpatrick’s corruption trial. A prosecutor took Miller through text messages in which contractor Bobby Ferguson knocks his demolition competitors. Kilpatrick’ text response was “Cool!”
Demolition projects were a priority in city government, according to testimony. Demolition company owner John Adamo appealed to Miller to get work that he said he wasn’t getting.
“He didn’t explain why he was appealing to Miller,” said WWJ reporter Vickie Thomas, covering the trial.
Miller toured Adamo’s facility and then spoke to the mayor about it, reporting that Adamo felt Ferguson was bad mouthing him and interfering in his business, trying to get money and contracts. Ferguson told Miller there was “bad blood” with Adamo and he shouldn’t be trusted, per testimony.
In a July 21, 2004, text message Ferguson allegedly wrote to Kilpatrick “Hey don’t let Zeke (Derrick) let adamo in…we can’t trust them and they bad mouthing all of us.”
Miller also allegedly got in the mix when Ferguson complained he hadn’t been paid for work he performed, and Kilpatrick held up a water contract payment to Inland Waters until Ferguson got paid. An Inland representative told Miller Ferguson was trying to get paid for work he hadn’t done.
“He (the rep) told Miller that Ferguson could be trouble for the mayor and that he should stay away from the guy,” Thomas reports. “Kwame took the position that Inland owed Bobby the money.”
Ferguson, Miller, Kilpatrick and water boss Victor Mercado, among others, later went on a trip to Puerto Rico to “check out the water system there,” and Kilpatrick allegedly asked Miller to steer water contracts to his pal Ferguson.
Thomas Hardiman of the Lakeshore Economic Coalition, met with Kilpatrick’s mother Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick when his $10 million sewer contract was allegedly held up during the effort to steer work to Ferguson.
A text shown in court had Ferguson writing, “Hardiman, lakeshore called your mother office on us…Zeke just called me.”
Kilpatrick responded: “LOL.”
Miller was told to meet with Hardiman and “be vague.”
“I listened and I was vague.” Miller testified.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and Ferguson are charged with running a criminal enterprise by rigging contracts and taking payoffs.
Miller says he took a trip to Puerto Rico in 2003 with Kilpatrick, Ferguson and then-Detroit water boss Victor Mercado to look at aqueducts. The water department was a source of city work for Ferguson.
Miller testified Monday about delivering bribes to Kilpatrick from another contractor. Miller pleaded guilty to corruption in 2011.
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