DETROIT (WXYZ) - When Kwame Kilpatrick was in court for hearings that lead to his imprisonment, one person was almost always there at his side, Bobby Ferguson.
Kilpatrick and Ferguson have been close friends for years and many have questioned whether Ferguson's friendship with Kilpatrick put him on the inside track for city business.
Published reports say Ferguson has landed an astonishing $170 million in city construction and demolition contracts. He wasn't always the lowest bidder, and a lot of the contracts had cost overruns:
A $1.3 million exterior facelift at Cobo Hall wound up costing 5.5 million.
A $ 7 million renovation at Cobo had a half-million in cost over-runs.
He bid $1.4 million for excavation work at Ford Field and it wound-up costing nearly twice that.
Ferguson landed a $7 million job to gut the Book Cadillac hotel even though his company had no experience with high rise demolition and wasn't the low bidder.
No one has questioned the quality of Ferguson's work, but how did he get so many city jobs with so many cost overruns?
When he was asked about his friendship with Kilpatrick in a 2006 deposition, he was evasive even after his own lawyer told him to answer the question.
"But if you could just answer yes or no whether you and the mayor are friends,” said his lawyer.
“I know the mayor,” responded Ferguson.
“I know him too, but I can't call him my friend,” said an opposing lawyer.
In 2008, the Detroit Free Press dropped a bombshell, uncovering text messages that appeared to show collusion. Texts between Ferguson and Kilpatrick's lover and chief-of-staff Christine Beatty suggested Ferguson had received inside information from Beatty to help land city contracts.
In January 2009, federal agents swooped in executing search warrants at two of Ferguson's companies and hauling out boxes of records. The search warrants were sealed and the feds were tight lipped, but word leaked out that the raids were tied to the pay-to-play corruption investigation at city hall.
Ferguson's problems didn't start with the feds.
He's had run-ins with the law dating back to his teenage years. At 18, he was convicted in Farmington Hills for assaulting a bouncer at a bar with a baseball bat, but the record was expunged.
Over the years he's faced a slew of charges including felonious assault, assault with intent to commit murder and carrying a concealed weapon.
But all the charges were either dropped or lowered.
In 2005, a felony charge finally stuck. Ferguson was convicted of pistol whipping an employee named Kennedy Thomas, leaving Thomas with a permanent brain injury.
Even then, Ferguson got off relatively easy: only ten months in jail and he was out twelve-hours every day on work release, and during the Super Bowl the deal was sweetened even more. Back then, I exposed how Ferguson was being released from jail for 20-hours a day just before the Super Bowl to do an emergency tear down of the old Motown building.
"Two weeks from now it will be a parking lot. And we'll see some cars parked out here hopefully.,” Ferguson told Action News at the time.
But the Wayne County prosecutor wasn't impressed. She went to court and got some extra time tacked onto Ferguson's sentence to make up for his little super bowl break.
Kennedy Thomas filed a civil suit and won a $2.6 million judgment against Ferguson.
The judge later lowered the award and the case is now on appeal.
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