BLOG: Ferguson attorney takes aim at star government witness Derrick Miller

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with all the developments in the Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

1:00--The end:  And it couldn't come sooner.  My fingers are about to start bleeding.  See you tomorrow, folks. 

 

12:58--More texts: Coming fast and furiously, folks. 
 
Ferguson: If Gary Torgo calls about meah not calling him back its because, of him not paying fei, for the parking garage.
 
Kilpatrick: Cool how much does he owe. 
 
Ferguson: is its his team, their disputing 57,000.00 for work we performed on mack and woodwards.  typical white folk shit, when we talk I tell wht walbridges people are trying ant shit change I just a (EXPLETIVE) with some power though. lol
 
Kilpatrick: True!
 
Note: Gary Torgo is a Detroit developer, Meah was the director of the city's Building and Safety department, and FEI is Ferguson Enterprises Inc. 

12:52--Kilpatrick and Ferguson: Some more texts are being shown, and I can hear the cries of English teachers throughout Southeast Michigan. 

Ferguson: can I talk to carolyn about babycreek, and the recand dwsd in more detail so she can talk to victor, he didn't here black.  

Kilpatrick: yes. He heard.  I didn't tell him about that yet. 

Carolyn was the head of the city's recreation department. "Black" is a nickname Ferguson had for Kilpatrick, Chutkow said. 

12:45--More texts: There's no better way to end a day of court than with expletive-filled, typo-ridden text messages.  The ones we're seeing now are between Ferguson and Vincent Anwunah, a Detroit recreation department employee. 

Anwunah: They want wldbridgwe to xollect 500,000 o this contract what do you think?

Ferguson: Hell no that's 5% they are crazy, 2% fuck them and walbridge that's theft.  
 
Later on, Anwunah responds: The guy insisted that they must pay them 5% and you have to submit your price to them as the general.  I told him to tell them they can be paid not more than 2.5% and also should allow FEI to put a team together and I will b
 
Note: The typos here are as-written. I'm not going to try to interpret what's going on in this conversation. 

12:40--Beeckman's back: FBI agent Bob Beeckman is back on the stand. 

12:40--End of Miller: With that, Miller is done.  

12:36--Getting testy:  Under re-cross by Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas, Miller is being grilled on whether his marriage was the single-most important thing in his life.  Miller says his marriage is the most important thing in his life, but as important as his son, church, etc. 

"Sir, you didn't like going to church when you were working for the Kilpatrick administration, did you?" Thomas asked.

Miller agreed, and added he doesn't go to church because he's not a Christian. 

12:34--Getting divorced: Miller disclosed that his marriage has fallen apart as a result of this federal case and his actions.

With that, Chutkow sits down.

12:31--Feds back: Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow is back up now, asking Miller about the accidental disclosure of a $50,000 donation to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund from businessman Jon Rutherford.  Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas had suggested that the disclosure proved the Civic Fund wasn't interested in being secret, but Miller insisted it was an accident.

Under re-direct by Chutkow, Miller said that Kilpatrick expressed his displeasure about the disclosure, saying: "Mr. Phillips had messed up, he didn't have to do that."

12:28--Last shot: Before ending his questions, Evelyn asked Miller about a warning he said earlier that he gave Victor Mercado about Kilpatrick.  He testified that he warned Mercado (before he left the administration) to be careful and not get caught up with any federal probe that may be going on. 

Evelyn reminded Miller that, at the time, he was in plenty of trouble himself: taking bribes, arranging commissions on city work, etc.  And Miller was telling Mercado to be careful, Evelyn asked incredulously.

Yes, Miller responded. 

"No further questions," Evelyn said. 

12:26--Please the feds: Only the feds can urge Judge Edmunds to give Miller a lesser sentence, says Evelyn.  Miler agrees.  In other words, the feds need to be happy if Miller has a shot at less time in prison. 

12:23--Provision: Evelyn is asking Miller about a provision of his plea agreement, which Evelyn says requires Miller to seek the government's approval if he intends to offer any statement or be "debriefed" by any other lawyers (except his own lawyer) or others. 

In other words, if Miller decided he wants to bare his soul to Oprah, he'd have to clear it by the feds.  

12:21--Guilty plea: Now Evelyn is asking Miller about his plea agreement with the feds.  Perhaps a sign that his cross-examination is drawing to a close.  

12:17--Failed project: Evelyn is asking Miller about a project that he helped authorize that was supposed to put large television monitors downtown that would provide Homeland Security messages.  The project didn't materialize and was mostly a failure, Miller said in earlier testimony.

Miller, Evelyn said, authorized $472,000 for "phase one" of the project for Park.  Park was paid the entire amount, even though the project wasn't successfully completed. 

12:03--Asian Village: Evelyn was about to move on to questions regarding Asian Village and Andrew Park, but Judge Edmunds moved for a brief break first.  Remember: Miller testified earlier that Park gave him $10,000 which he delivered to Kilpatrick in the Asian Village bathroom. 

11:59--Making money: Evelyn is asking Miller about commissions he was paid for introducing officials from Jones, Lang, LaSalle to pension board officials.

He's also asking him about other financial interests that Miller expressed interest in around the time he was a city official in Detroit. 

Perhaps an effort to remind jurors that Miller was interested in getting paid, even if it wasn't considered ethical.  

11:56--Stay with us: If slow and steady really does win the race, then Gerald Evelyn is going to win the gold.  Today's cross-examination has been slower than what we're used to, but Evelyn is one of the best defense lawyers in this state, so don't go to sleep on him.  

11:51--Book-Cadillac: Ferguson earned ta contract to work on the Book-Cadillac hotel fair and square, Evelyn says, and Miller has no evidence to the contrary. 

11:31--Savvy lawyer: You might remember that consultant Bernard Parker III of Insituform, a company who was doing city work, wrote an e-mail to his bosses saying that a high-ranking city official reminded him of his company's increased business under the Kilpatrick administration, and urged them to reevaluate their corporate citizenship within Detroit. 

Parker testified that the "city official" was really Bobby Ferguson, and that he lied to his boss, but just now Evelyn showed Miller the e-mail and asked whether that "official" was really him.  

Miller said he didn't recall, though. 

11:27--Saved money: When one of Bobby Ferguson's firms Xcel performed a $2.2 million rehabilitation project at Cobo Hall for the city, it came it at 338,000 under budget: money that was a savings to the city. 

11:20--The headline: If I had to pick a headline from Evelyn's cross-examination so far, it would be this: records and testimony show that Bobby Ferguson wasn't the only contractor with access to Kilpatrick and others.

We just saw an e-mail from Bernard Parker III, a consultant hired by Walbridge, which showed he had received information just 45 minutes after it had been delivered to a top city official about her optimism that Walbridge would still receive city work that was under protest. 

Earlier, we heard about big business titans who had access to Kilpatrick when they needed it. 

11:12--Walbridge bid: The Baby Creek contract that was won by Walbridge received three formal protests.   

11:00--Soave: Detroit business titan Tony  Soave had access to Kilpatrick if he wanted it, Miller says, and could see him on short notice.  Earlier, Miller said other Detroit business moguls like Roger Penske and John Rakolta had the same kind of access. 

10:54--We're back: The lawyers are having a brief sidebar with the judge.  Well, I think it will be brief. 

10:24--Short break: Stay with us, folks. 

10:10--Inland paid: Contractors often complained about getting paid on time by the City of Detroit, but Evelyn is showing a list of payments to Inland which indicates monthly payments being made to the company.  I'm not sure how this helps Evelyn's case, but hold on and I'm sure this will start making better sense soon. 

10:00--Contract cost: Contract 1368 started out as a $50 million contract but grew to $138 million. 

9:57--As needed: Evelyn is showing a city memo that indicates that contract 1361 would be used to supplement work that had been performed under a previous contract. That work would be completed on an "as needed" basis. The memo was written while Dennis Archer was still mayor. 

9:53--Contract 1361: Now Evelyn is moving to contract 1361, which has been much discussed throughout this trial.  Lakeshore Engineering's Thomas Hardiman said he was awarded city work that was later pulled and given to a company called Inland Waters (owned by Tony Soave).  But Soave testified that the contract (which became 1368) wasn't going anywhere for a while and, when he asked Kilpatrick why, was told that he hadn't hired Bobby Ferguson as a subcontractor.

Stay with us.  I know this is getting a little confusing. 

9:48--Other companies: Evelyn also showed the city council minutes to demonstrate that contractors other than Ferguson were receiving demolition work. 

He's also trying to show that lots of minority contractors were receiving work. 

9:46--Gone and back: Kilpatrick left the courtroom a few minutes ago and just now returned.  He's wearing a pretty fashion-forward outfit today: a collared shirt with a bow tie, underneath a sweater, underneath a suade-looking jacket.  

I could never pull that off.  Never. 

9:42--Costly increases: Evelyn is showing what appear to be Detroit City Council minutes from a meeting in 2003, showing a series of approved increases to demolition and construction contracts.  At least a half-dozen companies sought the increase, including Ferguson.  

My guess here is that Evelyn is showing this to combat previous testimony that raised questions about Ferguson's work seeking (and receiving) approval for increases in payments from the city for more work. 

9:33--No probe: Evelyn reminds Miller of his earlier testimony that he said he was approached by two contractors, Farrow and Adamo, who complained that they were having a hard time getting city work.  Miller was asked if he looked into whether their work with the city really had decreased.  He said he had not, but Farrow was apparently leased that Miller went to bat for him, as he received some work on the city's riverfront later on. 

9:27--Helping minorities: The Kilpatrick administration cared deeply about helping minorities, Evelyn says, and Miller agrees.  Which is why it was important that minority bidders be well-represented in the bidding process, Evelyn says.

9:18--ID badge: Remember that ID badge with Ferguson's picture on it that the prosecution has shown a few times?  It said "Mayor's Office" at the top, and the feds said it was a symbol of Ferguson's special access to Kilpatrick.

Evelyn suggests that the badge was given to Ferguson for a perfectly legitimate reason: Ferguson worked on a program called the "Motor City Makeover," which was a years-long endeavor.  Evelyn says that meetings often took place after hours down at city hall, which would require an ID badge for Ferguson to get in. Evelyn also said that Ferguson wasn't the only contractor to receive a badge like this: contractor Frank Torre apparently got one, too. 

9:14--Never saw: Evelyn is asking Miller about whether he received a tour of Ferguson's offices in Detroit, where he allegedly misused state grant money.  Ferguson claims he used the money to build a training center for youth interested in construction, but the feds maintain it never materialized.  

Earlier, Miller claimed he never saw the training center.  

9:12--Evelyn up: Attorney Gerald Evelyn, who represents defendant Bobby Ferguson, is up now to cross-examine star government witness Derrick Miller.  He's Kwame Kilpatrick's former friend and aide who testified that the former mayor accepted bribes and said that finding Ferguson city work was a priority. 

9:09--Day 53: Welcome back.  Sorry for the late start this morning. Finding parking outside was a challenge.  Apparently there's a car show going on downtown.  Who knew?

Have a question or comment for Ross?  E-mail him at rjones@wxyz.com.  You can also find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter

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