DETROI T (WXYZ) - Bobby Ferguson's war with the feds got a little easier Thursday as federal prosecutors dropped nine charges against Kwame Kilpatrick's friend and former city contractor. The announcement was largely a surprise.
The charges involve alleged bribes that Ferguson made to Kilpatrick in exchange for millions of dollars in work, and six money laundering charges related to alleged extortion of two firms.
Ferguson's lawyer Mike Rataj said Thursday that his client obtained all of his money legally and has always paid his taxes.
One of the dropped charges was not a surprise. It involved alleged extortion by Ferguson and Kilpatrick of tower Gasper Fiore. In August, it was learned that Kilpatrick's attorney Jim Thomas once represented Fiore in an unrelated matter. Kilpatrick argued that compromised Thomas, and asked that he be removed from his case.
Dropping Thomas could have delayed the trial months or longer. In response, the U.S. Attorney announced they would drop the charge involving Fiore, and followed through Thursday.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade issued a statement late Thursday, saying the charges were dropped to make the complex case easier to understand.
"The government chose to voluntarily dismiss nine counts against Bobby Ferguson in an effort to streamline an already lengthy trial and in accordance with earlier pretrial rulings," she said.
"The defendant remains charged with the most serious offenses, including racketeering, bribery and extortion."
Ferguson still faces13 charges.