(WXYZ) - Calling him the catalyst of an unprecedented extortion scheme, Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced Bobby Ferguson to 21 years in federal prison.
Ferguson got 7 years less than his long-time friend, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Both were convicted in March of racketeering, bribery and extortion.
Federal prosecutors said, Ferguson may not have been mayor, but he was the muscle and the money man, forcing other contractors to cut him in on lucrative city contracts.
Judge Nancy Edmunds told the 44-year-old that the pay-to-play atmosphere of corruption during Kilpatrick's administration forced many people away from the city.
The judge slammed Ferguson for obstructing justice – both during the FBI investigation and by submitting a falsified document during the trial about the work his company did at a massive sinkhole.
Ferguson's daughters and his soon-to-be-ex -wife held back tears as he spoke to the judge in a sometimes shaky voice.
Ferguson choked up when he told the court that today – his sentencing day – was also his wife's birthday.
Meanwhile, Ferguson's attorney Gerald Evelyn argued his client should not be made a scapegoat for the Detroit 's problems.
"It isn't just about trying to take Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick and make them be examples of the decline of the city. I think that's an ahistorical point of view, it's inconsistent, and I think its blame shifting to a greater extent that might be necessary," said Evelyn.
The feds wanted Ferguson to get 28 years like Kilpatrick… but Evelyn had asked the judge for no more than 10 years in prison.
"Myself, and Ms. Van Dusen and Mr. Rataj, we put our heart and soul into this case, so it's obviously troubling. Some people say it could have been worse, but the reality is, is that it's still significant," said Evelyn.
Ferguson did not apologize – and he made no admissions when he addressed the court.
"We got an appeal, we got another trial. So I mean, you know, he's not going to make those kinds of statements, and I thought that Bobby spoke from the heart, and he didn't ask for anything for himself," said Mike Rataj.
Ferguson is still heading to trial on a separate bid-rigging case in January. That's also why you didn't hear a public reaction from the prosecution today. But as for the Kilpatrick Corruption Case – here's the breakdown of his sentence:
For the Racketeering and conspiracy convictions, as well as the extortion convictions from those multi-million city contracts, the judge gave him 20 years.
She gave him one additional year for the bribery conviction, which was the $75,000 payment Ferguson made to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.