Day 32: Feds release explosive texts between Kilpatrick and Ferguson about bid process

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged all the news to come out of day 32 of the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.  Follow along below:

12:20--Sick juror: Well, how's this for a tease?  Turns out that we're ending early today.  A juror is ill, so we'll resume on Monday. 

12:14--Next witness: We appear to be on a break right now, but the next witness is expected to be Detroit businessman Karl Kado, who pled guilty to bribing Kilpatrick and others in order to keep major contracts at Cobo Hall.  Stay with us, folks.

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

11:42--Explosive texts: The feds are throwing out some potentially damaging texts sent between Ferguson and Kilpatrick about a contract that initially was going to be awarded to Lakeshore Engineering, which we talked about earlier this week.

"Hello Black. You haven't released that contract right," Ferguson texted to Kilpatrick.

"Right.  They know I'm holding it." Kilpatrick responded

"Using your terms, is it still cool with you.  I need you to hold it for a long time." Ferguson responded.

Eventually, that contract would be killed, and the work would be rolled into another job that Ferguson would be working on.

11:33--Ferguson text: The government is showing a text sent to Bobby Ferguson from one of his employees around the time it appeared another company, Lakeshore Engineering, was in line to receive a city contract Ferguson wanted.

"Dennis informs me that CS-1361 maybe awarded to Lakeshore anything FEI can do?" she asked.

Ferguson responded he would be at the office shortly. Dennis was an employee of Inland Waters. Later, Ferguson would go into business with Inland on this very contract.

11:22--Quick cross: Well that was fast.  Van Dusen is done, and now Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea is up.

11:18--Thomas done: Thomas is done with his cross-examination.  It's time for Bobby Ferguson's lawyer Susan Van Dusen to get her chance. 

11:14--More questions: Now Thomas is pointing out that years later in 2008, there were city council hearings that raised the question of whether DLZ was Detroit-based.

11:09--Getting tense: It's clear how concerned the defense is about Harris' testimony by their very aggressive cross-examination of him. 

Jim Thomas, Kilpatrick's lawyer, is raising his voice and pointing at Harris as he asks him whether he "sat on his hands" when others were raising questions about DLZ's certification.

Harris, though, is staying very cool, saying that he listened to their concerns, and explained why he felt they were misplaced .

10:49--Ohio raises a flag: A lot of people in Michigan don't like the state of Ohio.  And to Harris, he acknowledges that reading the company's headquarters was based in Columbus gave him pause.  He said that's why he sought out the Detroit Law Department's opinion on whether the company deserved the status: they concluded that it did, he said.

10:44--Definition: Thomas is showing Harris the city's definition of the word "headquarters," which is defined as the place where the company's CEO and highest level managers have their offices and perform their management functions.

10:42--Questioning continues: Thomas is still cross-examining Harris, asking him if he ever went to the building where DLZ was located, met with any of its employees or could even remember their names.

Harris said he didn't.  Earlier, he indicated that he sent one of his employees to go to DLZ's headquarters.

10:15--Break time: Stay with us.  We're taking about a 15 minutes berak.

10:14--Thorough job: Essentially, Thomas wants to argue that Harris didn't do his due diligence in determining that DLZ was properly certified. He wants to introduce corporate records, tax records, etc.  But Judge Edmunds isn't playing ball, saying that he can make these arguments later on or call witnesses (when its the defense's turn) to question whether DLZ deserved its certification...but he can't do it now with Harris on the stand.

The prosecution says this is getting far afield and will become a "mini-trial" about whether DLZ should have been certified in the first place when the focus here is whether Kwame Kilpatrick told Phillips to have the certification pulled.

Essentially, the judge is ruling with the prosecution.  But Thomas is still pushing.

"You know, I've ruled I think three or four times," Edmunds snapped.

"I'm not going to rule any further."

10:05--Legal wrangling: Well, looks like we're taking our mid-morning break a little early today.  Sounds like lawyers from both sides have a disagreement about what exhibits are and are not admissible in court.  The arguments will be made in open court, but without the jury or witness present. Here we go.

9:55--Getting tense: Judge Edmunds and Jim Thomas clashed a little just now, as Thomas continued to ask Harris if he had done his job when he determined an investigation wasn't necessary into DLZ's headquarters status.

Edmunds said he was going in circles.  Thomas is moving on.

9:48--Investigation requested: Harris is being asked about a May 17, 2006 e-mail he received from Detroit Water Department employee Dan Edwards, requesting for a formal investigation into DLZ's Detroit headquarters certification.  But Harris says there was no need do it: his department had already determined that the company was properly certified when they last gave them their accreditation, and the law department agreed.

Thomas is trying to argue that there was a request to verify that, and Harris didn't follow through with it.

9:37--Unavailable for comment: Thomas is pointing out to the jury--for the first time--that Gerard Grant Phillips is deceased and, therefore, unavailable to cross-examine.  Indeed, that may be their strongest defense to Harris' testimony: how can we verify what he's saying when it's coming from a dead guy we can't question?

9:27--Unstoppable: If he had wanted to, Harris says his boss Gerard Grant Phillips still couldn't have overruled Kilpatrick's alleged demand that DLZ's certification be pulled.

Bullotta is now done with direct-examination. Kilpatrick's lawyer Jim Thomas is up now, and he's got some work to do.

9:24--Felt uncomfortable: Harris testifies that the whole situation made him feel uneasy, especially when (later on) DLZ had its certification reinstated after the contract had already been awarded to Ferguson.

"I advised the director I didn't want to be involved anymore because it was getting too goofy," Harris said.

"It was being revoked, then they reinstated it without explanation."

9:20--Urgent: Harris says Phillips told him that DLZ needed to have its certification pulled urgently, but didn't say why.

9:16--Here we go: Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta is up now, cross-examining Harris. As expected, he's being asked about what his boss Phillips told him years ago.  Harris described his demeanor when he told him to pull DLZ's certification.

"He seemed nervous," Harris said.

9:12--First witness: When we get going, today's first witness will be the same gentleman we ended the day with yesterday: Kim Harris of the City of Detroit's Department of Human Rights.  That department ensures that city contractors really do comply with hiring standards to qualify as Detroit-based businesses.  Yesterday, Harris testified that he was told by his then-boss Gerard Grant Phillips (now deceased) to have DLZ, a Ferguson competitor's certification, pulled--even though Harris had determined it was legitimate. 

"The mayor wants it done," Phillips allegedly told Harris.

Pulling their certification tossed the company out of the bid process and allowed Ferguson to score a huge city contract. 

9:10--Friend reunited: If you didn't get a chance to catch my 11 o'clock story from last night, you can check it out here.  It's the first (and quite possibly last) story I've done that Kwame Kilpatrick said he enjoyed.  How's that for a tease?

9:08--Welcome back: Welcome back to my home away from home, also known as the Theodore Levin Federal Courthouse. We're a little behind this morning, as the lawyers seem to be in Judge Edmunds' chambers right now. 

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