Executive: Company, Ferguson in "forced marriage"

(WXYZ) - Powerful testimony once again Friday in the Kilpatrick corruption trial as a former Soave Enterprises top executive tells the jury their company was in a "forced marriage" with the former mayor's friend.

Kathleen McCann told the jury she kept a lot of notes when she dealt with Bobby Ferguson because someday she knew she'd have to tell what happened.

Tony Soave himself continued his testimony as well Friday, insisting that the former mayor had a lot of say over his business in the city.

While defense lawyers got the leader of the $2.5 Billion dollar Soave Enterprises empire to agree that he was friends with several politicians, Soave continued to insist that he gave Kwame Kilpatrick pricey presents and perks because the former mayor had a lot power.

Soave testified for a third day in the Kilpatrick corruption case. Detroit's former mayor, his father, and his friend, contractor Bobby Ferguson, are on trial, accused of extortion and racketeering.

Federal prosecutors say Soave felt pressured to give Kilpatrick more than $389,000 in private plane rides – flights that were first exposed by the 7 Action News Investigators in 2008.

Kilpatrick attorney Harold Gurewitz showed the jury some of those flights were used to help the former mayor during the 2003 mid-west blackout, and to visit some of Soave's real estate developments in the hopes of bringing similar condo projects to Detroit.

"The evidence is he did give other plane flights to other politicians throughout time. So this is not a first… he liked him, they were friends. And Mr. Soave testified he was friends with the Governor, Governor Engler.. he was friends with Ed McNamara, he was friends with Coleman Young. He was friends with Dennis Archer," said Ferguson attorney Mike Rataj.

But Soave continued to insist that Kilpatrick held up Inland Water's $50 million  sewer-lining contract until Soave changed his minority subcontractor to Bobby Ferguson.

Former Soave Enterprises Senior Vice President Kathleen McCann who oversaw Inland Waters took the witness stand next. When she described Ferguson wanting $1.5 Million of the contract, McCann said "We were essentially in a forced marriage."

McCann said dealing with Ferguson was like "breathing the air where there's a constant threat," saying he often used his relationship with the mayor to imply Inland wouldn't get any more city work.

Defense attorneys got both Soave and McCann to agree that the sewer-lining deal had to be approved formally by the city council and that Kilpatrick never had to physically sign the contract.

"Have you seen any evidence that it went across his desk, or that it was part of the process? Have they shown you one piece of evidence? Just ask yourself that question," said Rataj.

But both witnesses said repeatedly that they were told the hold-up was in the mayor's office. McCann also told the jury that former Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller blatantly asked her in the middle of a crowded party at the Mackinac Policy Conference how her negotiations with Ferguson were going. McCann testified she was uncomfortable and started keeping detailed notes – saying "We had a sense someday we'd be telling this story."

Defense lawyers will continue cross examining McCann on Monday. Other executives from Soave Enterprises and Inland Waters are expected to testify soon.
 

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