(WXYZ) - The head of the Federal Defenders office has a unique idea for the judge in Bobby Ferguson's upcoming bid rigging trial: don't make him say under oath if he still has assets, give him a lawyer, and if the feds scrounge up more of the former contractor's cash in the future – pay the taxpayers back.
Chief Federal Defender Miriam Seifer told Judge David Lawson Thursday that her office has represented defendants in the past who refuse to tell the government what they're worth. Lawson asked Seifer to file a brief next week with the court explaining the precedent for appointing a lawyer without filling out a sworn affidavit.
Ferguson's original lawyer Gerald Evelyn was forced to withdraw from the bid rigging case due to health reasons.
Ferguson has refused to sign an affidavit saying he's indigent to get court appointed counsel.
Ferguson's other lawyer in the corruption case, Mike Rataj, says federal prosecutors threatened to charge him with perjury if he filled out the affidavit.
"They've stated it publicly that they believe that he has assets out there. So, no lawyer worth his salt is going to advise him to sign that affidavit. And the judge understands that," said Rataj.
Rataj says federal prosecutors have used the allegations that Ferguson may have funds stashed away to flee the country as an argument to keep him locked up at the Milan Federal Correctional Facility until he's sentenced in the RICO case.
"Mr. Ferguson has never asked for a court appointed lawyer – all he's ever asked for was the chance to get out so he can make the necessary moves to try to get a lawyer [for the bid rigging case], but you can't get a lawyer when you're behind bars," said Rataj.
When 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo asked Rataj if Ferguson really did have money stashed away, Rataj said: "There's no other money out there Heather. Cause if there was then we wouldn't have these issues, ok? He would be able to hire himself a lawyer. But they've grabbed everything, and they know that."
The feds seized $2.2 Million in the bid rigging case alone - and more in the Rico case.
Judge Lawson won't make a decision until after Seifer files the brief.