Did Ferguson use state grant money to remodel his headquarters?

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Marble floors, a spiral staircase, expensive wooden tables and desks, and a loft called a "chilling pad."

Those are just some of the things the man who designed the interior of Ferguson Enterprises described on the witness stand inside federal court Monday for the Kilpatrick Corruption trial.

Robert Murray, the President and Owner of Contract Design Group in Royal Oak, told the jury he had worked with former city-contractor Bobby Ferguson on several occasions – and then Ferguson hired him to remodel his office.

The feds allege Ferguson used $37,000 in state grant money that was supposed to help kids and seniors to pay for part of the remodeling.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, Ferguson, and ex-Water department director Victor Mercado are all charged with racketeering and conspiracy, accused of running a criminal enterprise out of city hall.

Federal prosecutors say when Kilpatrick was a state representative, he helped steer $250,000 in grant money to Ferguson's non-profit called Detroit 3D.

Ferguson's lawyers say Ferguson was building a training center to teach low-income residents work skills.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked Murray if any of the design plans included a training area? He said no.

"Had you ever heard of that non-profit Detroit 3D when you were talking about these plans for Mr. Ferguson," asked 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones, outside federal court.

"No I hadn't," said Murray.

"What about a training center – was that ever discussed," asked Jones.

"No," said Murray.

Chutkow also showed the President of AirTec Corporation, Christopher Boettcher, invoices that Detroit 3D sent to the State Budget Office in Lansing to justify the grant money – invoices the government is clearly suggesting were forged. Boettcher said he did provide materials for renovations at Ferguson Enterprises, but the AirTec invoices sent to the state were not prepared by his company.

Defense attorney Susan Van Dusen got both men to admit that they didn't know for sure if Ferguson built a training center once their work on the property was finished and that nearly $42,000 of Murray's design bills were paid by Ferguson Enterprises – in addition to the $37,000 check from the non-profit's account.

The feds also say Ferguson used about $25,000 of the grant money to purchase a home on Meyers in Detroit. but it was never used to help any needy people.

The current owner of the duplex says he bought the home in 2005 from Detroit 3D for about $50,000.

IRS agent Ron Sauer then testified that Ferguson then deposited that check into his Ferguson enterprises account – and made a 100% profit.

Defense lawyers tell 7 Action News that since the state never tried to get the grant money back, Ferguson didn't break the law. They also say Ferguson intended to create a group home for displaced seniors and runaway teens, but he couldn't complete the plans because the state refused to release the rest of the grant money.

The testimony on the state grants should be wrapping up soon. But there is a bit of a problem developing. There is a juror who cannot stay awake. She has fallen asleep almost every day during the testimony. It's not clear what the judge will do about this, but she does have the option to remove her and use an alternate instead.


 

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