BLOG: Kilpatrick's ex-friend says mayor pushed for Ferguson to score city business

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow the very latest in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

12:44--The end: We're done for today, folks. The prosecution still isn't finished with Miller and court isn't in session tomorrow, so he'll be back on Thursday.  I hope you'll be, too.  Enjoy your day. 

12:43--Big check: On June 25, 2008, Miller wrote a $10,000 check from his new company Citivest to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  It was at the height of the text-message scandal, and Kilpatrick held a fundraiser.

12:41--Rumors: On the day he announced he was leaving, Miller told Kilpatrick that he knew he had heard rumors that he was talking to the feds. 

"Despite what you've heard and what people are telling you about me, that's just not true," Miller said.

"I know," Kilpatrick responded.

Miller was telling the truth then, he said, and hadn't been contacted by any federal agents. 

12:38--See ya: When he told Kilpatrick in the Summer of 2007 that he intended to leave, Miller says the mayor was surprised.

12:35--Time to go: When Miller decided to jump ship and leave the Kilpatrick administration in 2007, he said he had a frank conversation with water chief Victor Mercado, who was still with the administration at the time.

"It had worn him out, he was just getting tired, tired of dealing with a lot of the headaches, a lot of the fighting.  He mentioned he was tired of dealing with the Ferguson matter," Miller said.

"Battling with Ferguson was the worst part of his job."

Miller says he told Mercado to "be careful, with anything having to do with Ferguson, be careful."

Miller said Mercado should be careful with how he dealt with Ferguson and contracts, saying law enforcement (i.e, the FBI) could be involved.

12:30--Concerned: Miller says everyone wanted a piece of the pie when it came to these major contracts, including Kilpatrick's sister Ayanna.  Describing what he says she meant in her text exchange, Miller says she was concerned that, because Bobby Ferguson wanted a piece of the Synagro deal, it would mean a smaller piece that Ayanna (who owned a consulting firm) could claim.

12:27--Boom: This could be a damaging text for the mayor's sister, or at least hard to explain.

Shortly after her text exchange with Tardif, Ayanna Kilpatrick sent this text message to Miller:

"Here we go with this Bobby bull again!  Tardiff cancelled mtg with my guys today.  Just stated bobby wants to do same thing..(waste hauling). Great if its room for him, terrible if he's holding us up!  Can we make a $ too?!!"

12:21--Meeting: A text from the Mayor's sister Ayanna Kilpatrick to Mike Tardif, a Kilpatrick aide, reads like this:

"You are supposed to meet with Joe Smiler & Leon Falk @ 530 re waste hauling contract.  They received that msg last week, no follow up since."

Smiler was a Detroit businessman who supported Kilpatrick's 2001 campaign.  He owned a trucking company on Detroit's west side.  Leon Falk is his partner, Miller says.

The rest of the conversation goes like this (complete with typos)

Tardif:" Sorry those guys...i am calling joe now...we have to talk about his...bobby may e wanting to do same thing."

Ayanna: Here we go with that bullshit again. I"ll talk to mayor & derrick about this."

Tardif: "Talked with joe...jr isn't coming dwn today...we will set them up...no bullshit, if he does ot come to detroit they can't meet...when he does they can..."

Ayanna: Okay I know you will work it out."

Tardif: "Sorry...i will meet with them anytime...it is jr schedule"

12:20--Slow it down: Miller says that when Rosendall stopped paying Bernard as a consultant, he threatened to "slow down" the process inside city hall.  That means, says Miller, he would delay things being approved on the contract.

The hope, said Miller, is that this would remind Rosendall that he needed to be paying Bernard Kilpatrick.

12:18--Kwame's orders: Miller said that Kilpatrick told him to introduce Rosendall to his father Bernard Kilpatrick, with the hope being that Rosendall would hire Bernard as a Synagro consultant.

He did.

12:12--Synagro: James Rosendall and the sludge company Synagro play a huge role in this trial, but they've so far not been mentioned in testimony.  That is, until now. 

James Rosendall was a Synagro employee who pleaded guilty to organizing a bribery scheme related to scoring a huge city contract.  He hired Bernard Kilpatrick on the consultant for this contract.

Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  Had to run outside to do a quick live shot for our 7 Action News at Noon viewers.

11:42--High life: Ah, the finer things.  Miller is being asked about flying on Tony Soave's jets.  Soave testified he was extorted by Kilpatrick to supply him with $400,000 in free jet travel.

"This private plane is the shit," Kilpatrick texted Miller.

Apparently Carlita Kilpatrick liked the jets plenty, too.  Although she appears to have wanted some in-flight entertainment, as a text from her to Miller suggests.

"Does the plane we are on have a vcr or dvd player on it," she asked.

Miller said he would check.

11:27--Inside info: Miller says Ferguson wanted him to communicate with Audrey Jackson, head of the city building authority, about the Baby Creek project in advance of bids being awarded.

This is a text from Miller to Ferguson, prior to the bids being announced: "What's the verdict I am in with Walbridge now do you want them to do the job and does it legally work."

NOTE: This is Miller's interpretation of Ferguson's text.  Like many he sends, it was filled with typos.

11:10--Walbridge: One by one, Miller is being asked about city contracts that have already been testified about during trial.  Now, we're moving on to Walbridge, the city contractor who said they were forced to hire Ferguson, too. They received a major city project called Baby Creek.

11:00-Cancel it: Miller says that he was told by Mayor Kilpatrick to tell Victor Mercado to cancel contract 1361, a water main contract that was originally awarded to Lakeshore Engineering. 

10:30--Short break: Stay with us.

10:28--Killed: Miller said that ultimately, Lakeshore's city contract (without Ferguson on it) would be killed.

"Basically, the decision was that the contract would not be awarded.  Mr. Mercado would be told not to award the contract," Miller said.

10:23--Meeting with Mom: Miller is testifying about a meeting with Kilpatrick's mother, who was then a Congresswoman, over why their city business had dried up.

Eventually, Miller would have a meeting with Hardiman.  Kilpatrick's assistant sent Miller a text message prior to that meeting:

"Derrick, can you call me, the mayor wants you to handle this mtg. with Thomas Hardiman today at 4:30PM. He wants you to listen and be vague."

Miller says he met with Hardiman, who expressed concern that Ferguson didn't like him and it was hurting his city business. 

"How did you respond?" asked Chutkow.

"I listened.  And was vague," Miller responded.

The courtroom laughed.

10:18--Another contractor: Miller says there was also controversy related to a contract awarded to Lakeshore Engineering.  Their executives also testified earlier in this trial, saying that they feared Kilpatrick was killing their city jobs because Ferguson wasn't a part of them. One of their contracts was held, Miller said, until Ferguson was satisfied.

This was conveyed to Miller by Victor Mercado, said Miller.

"It was requested that the contract be held," he said.

He said Mercado told him that this was Mayor Kilpatrick's decision.

10:14--Not friends: Mercado didn't like working with Ferguson, says Miller.  He says Mercado often complained about having to deal with the mayor's friend.

"Mr. Ferguson was very aggressive and their relationship was becoming combative," Miller said.

He went further.

"Bobby be complaining to the mayor.  (Kilpatrick) would subsequently be talking to Mr. Mercado.  (Mercado) felt that was occurring too often for him.  He was just shaken by it," Miller said.

10:13--Puerto Rico: In 2003, Miller says he, Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson and water chief Victor Mercado traveled to Puerto Rico to examine their water system.  While abroad, Miller says Kilpatrick expressed interest in finding Ferguson work in Puerto Rico.

Mercado used to run the Puerto Rico water system.

10:06--Mosaic meeting: Miller says he met with Ferguson and an Inland Waters executive at Mosaic restaurant in Greektown.

"I understood the purpose," Miller said.

"This was a meeting to resolve that issue, and that me showing up was a sign of the administration's concern or willingness or wanting to resolve the issue."

10:04--Didn't deserve it: Miller says he met with an official from Inland Waters, but he said Ferguson wasn't owed any money.  Miller says he was told that Ferguson "had been paid and that this was additional money he was seeking for work he did not perform."

Miller says he told this to Kilpatrick, but he still maintained that Ferguson was owed money.

10:01--Kilpatrick upset: Miller says that, when Inland failed to pay Ferguson promptly, Kilpatrick was none too pleased.

"He said Inland hadn't paid Bobby...their work wasn't going to move forward until they paid Bobby," Miller said.

"He said he was going to hold it."

9:55--Inland waters: Earlier, Inland Waters executive Tony Soave testified that he was forced by Kilpatrick to hire Ferguson for a major city water project he received.

Miller's testimony backs that up.  He says that, at Kilpatrick direction, he called an Inland Waters executive and informed him that it would be best if Bobby Ferguson was awarded some work under their contract.

Miller says another Inland executive, Kathleen McCann, wasn't receptive to hiring Ferguson. Ultimately, though, the company did.

9:49--Another complaint: Mike Farrow, another city contractor, came to Miller with complaints about not receiving city business. He complained about Ferguson, but also felt that Detroit Building and Safety Director Amru Meah (a Kilpatrick appointee) was hurting his business. 

The Detroit City Council began investigating demolition contracts after receiving a number of complaints.

9:40--Texts: The feds are using text messages, as they have throughout this trial, to strengthen what a witness testifies to.  Here's a text Kilpatrick received from Ferguson in July 2004.

"Hey don't let Zeke, let adamo in, we can't trust them and they bad mouthing all of us," Ferguson wrote.

Kilpatrick responded: "What?"

"Adamo demolition, zeke will be coming to you about helping them but its not cool, i don't trust them and they lost that's the bottom line everyone bidded and they lost," Ferguson wrote.  The typos included are Ferguson's. 

Zeke is the nickname for Miller.

9:35--No biz: Miller says he was approached by construction firm owner John Adamo, who was concerned that his company that was based in Detroit for generations was not receiving much city business.  He thought it was "primarily because Bobby Ferguson had interfered or was bad-mouthing him." He said he didn't have a good relationship with Ferguson.

When Miller told Kilpatrick about Adamo's concerns, he says the mayor was receptive.  Ferguson, however, was not. He says Ferguson told him that Adam was a rival. 

"They had bad blood basically," Miller said.

9:20--Building authority: Miller says that Kilpatrick wanted to install one of his own choices as head of the Detroit Building Authority, and he chose Ayanna Benson, who was related to him.

Did anyone benefit from that appointment, asked Chutkow, since it gave Kilpatrick more control over the authority?

"Contracts relative to a particular person--Bobby Ferguson--were a priority," Miller says.

He says he had discussions with Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty about getting Ferguson city work.

9:17--Blanton out: Miller is being asked about Glenn Blanton, who once ran Cobo Hall under Kilpatrick.  Miller says Kilpatrick told him to fire him, adding that he was suspicious that Blanton was talking to the feds.

9:15--Big oops: The feds began the morning by telling the jury they screwed up yesterday.  They showed a $34,000 check written by businessman Jon Rutherford's company to "Next Generations Detroit."  The feds apparently confused this group with Kilpatrick's Political Action Committee (PAC), which had a similar name: Generations PAC. 

Asst. U.S. Attorney acknowledged the mistake, and said the feds would be withdrawing that check as evidence. 

8:52--No court tomorrow: Just a heads up to everyone: there will be no court tomorrow.  No explanation was given, but we've known about this for some time.

8:46--Day 50: Who thought we'd make it this far?  It's the 50th day of trial, and once again I neglected to buy anyone an anniversary gift. When court resumes in less than 15 minutes, Kilpatrick's former friend Derrick Miller will resume his testimony. 

Yesterday, the government's star witness painted Kilpatrick as a greedy politician who accepted payoffs, looked for ways to cut in his friend Bobby Ferguson on city business and was paranoid that the feds were bugging his office.

Have a question or comment for Ross?  E-mail him at rjones@wxyz.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @RossJones7 or like him on Facebook.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments