Day 6: Did Bobby Ferguson submit fake invoices to state of Michigan?

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones (TWITTER: @RossJones7) was inside federal court blogging all the major developments that came out of witness testimony.  Follow along below:

12:36--That's all, folks: And with that, we're ending a little early today.  Thanks for joining us.  We'll be back tomorrow right at 9AM.  Any questions or comments?  E-mail me directly: rjones@wxyz.com

12:27--A new account: Detroit 3D opened an account at Merrill Lynch once it received its $250,000 grant from the state of Michigan.  From there, the first wire transfer that came out of the fund was $100,000 to Carlita Kilpatrick's U.N.I.T.E. organization. 

12:18--He's back: IRS agent Ron Sauer is back on the stand.  He's testifying that Ferguson bought a home using state funds for $25,000, then sold it later for $50,000.  The home's price doubled, but for Ferguson it was $50,000 in profit (since he was using the state's money in the first place).  Unfortunately, I wasn't present for defense cross-examination.  

12:17--Sorry for the delay in blogging.  Had to do a quick live shot for our 7 Action News at Noon viewers.

11:33--Training area: The alleged "training area" which defense lawyers say Ferguson built with state grant money, and prosecutors say never existed, is now being addressed by Van Dusen.  She's asking Murray if the training area was ever built.  Murray says it wasn't.

"Did you ever inspect the area (after you completed construction)," Van Dusen asked.

Murray said he did not, and would have no reason to look once he finished his job.

11:23--The sleeping juror: Might this morning's break have had something to do with a juror who's had a tough time staying awake?  It's been an ongoing problem throughout the trial and, while the judge has not addressed it publicly, I'd have a hard time believing she hasn't noticed.

10:52--Short break: Murray is still on the stand, but Judge Edmunds wants us to take a short break before continuing testimony.  We should resume in about 15 minutes.

10:47--A nice guy: Van Dusen suggests, and Murray agrees, that Ferguson was always pleasant and professional throughout the refurbishment process.  I guess she's hoping a jury will be less likely to convict a "nice guy." Though, if they wanted to, prosecutors could remind jurors of Ferguson's dozen or so arrests throughout his life, including an assault conviction for pistol whipping a colleague.  Thinking that won't come up, though.

10:44--Plans change: Sure, the blueprints might not show anything about a training center, but who's to say that Ferguson didn't move things around after CDG did the work?  Murray acknowledges to Van Dusen that it could have happened.

10:31--Ferguson paid for some: Using a projector screen, Ferguson attorney Susan Van Dusen showed checks paid to CDG by Ferguson Enterprises.  Those checks add up to $41,898 of the almost $79,000 job.  The remaining $37,000 or so, Van Dusen says, was paid for by Detroit 3D. She is suggesting that this was done intentionally because Detroit 3D and Ferguson Enterprises share the same office space on Wyoming Street. 

The prosecution contends that Detroit 3D had no offices inside.

10:25--"What's a Kwame:" Attached to Ferguson's work vehicles, Murray said, were "Kwame for Mayor" friends.

"What's a Kwame," Murray recalls asking Ferguson.

"That's my friend, and he's going to be Detroit's next mayor," he says Ferguson responded.

Murray said Ferguson expressed an interest in obtaining excavation business under his friend the mayor.

10:17--Records don't jive: In records submitted to the state, Ferguson said that money spent with CDG went to help build a training center.  Asst. US Attorney Mark Chutkow showed Murray what Ferguson submitted to the state.  Noticeably absent: all the refurbishments that CDG performed for Ferguson's offices. It only mentioned building a training center.

"Does it say anything about marble moldings for a conference room," Chutkow asked.

"No," Murray responded.

Murray said he never heard of a training center that Ferguson wanted built, and that his company never helped in building one.

10:13--No training center: Ferguson has said all along that he used the state grant money, in part, to build a training center.  But Murray says his company never helped build a training center. 

10:08--Big money: Ferguson spent $71,500 with CDG alone, according to Murray, on the refurbishing of his offices. 

10:03--"Chillin' pad:" A conference area in Ferguson's office was scrapped, Murray said, in place of a "chillin' area" where friends could visit, lounge around and watch television.  Built, the government alleges, with state money.

9:58--Fancy digs: Using a laser pointer, Murray is showing jurors how his company refurbished Ferguson's offices by pointing to a blown up blueprint of his work. Marble and wood were used throughout the building and chairs were upholstered, Murray said.  Inside Ferguson's private office?  A marble entranceway, hardwood floors and spiral metal staircase that leads you to a small loft.

9:46--Witness 2: Bob Murray, president of Contract Design Group (CDG) in Royal Oak, is testifying.  Murray says Ferguson spoke with him early on many years ago about refurbishing his offices in Detroit.

9:38--Why this matters: The line of questioning here, and how it's significant, may not be very clear.  Here's why it matters: the feds have alleged that Ferguson used this $250,000 grant money, at least in part, to spruce up his own offices, rather than use the money for the ways he promised the state he would.  State officials asked for "back up" documents to prove to them that Ferguson used the money in the right way.  If he indeed created and then submitted a fake invoice to the state, this could be big trouble for him, and might suggest that he had something to hide. 

9:36--Big building: Van Dusen asked Boettcher if he has ever been to Ferguson enterprises.  He said he has been twice, but didn't see the entire building.  Van Dusen used that answer to suggest that maybe the Detroit 3D offices were somewhere inside the 8,000 square foot building, and that the state money really did go to the right place after all.

9:35--Invoices very similar: Van Dusen compared the description of work on both invoices, and Boettcher acknowledged that they're the same. The unanswered questions: why would Ferguson (or someone else) create a second invoice that said the work was being done for his non-profit, and not for Ferguson?

9:27--Defense's turn: Ferguson lawyer Susan Van Dusen is up now to cross-examine Boettcher, and she has her work cut out for her.  Through Boettcher's testimony, the US Attorney has just alleged that Ferguson created and then submitted false invoices to the state to justify a $250,000 grant courtesy of the taxpayers.  

9:22--False invoices? Shown a copy of a purported AirTec invoice submitted by Bobby Ferguson for his non-profit fund, Boettcher said it was not an AirTec invoice.  In fact, he has a copy of what he says is the actual invoice for the work his company performed for Bobby Ferguson, and they have significant differences. 

In Boettcher's invoice, it lists "Ferguson Enterprises" as the client.  In the invoice submitted to the state of Michigan by Ferguson, the client is listed as Ferguson's non-profit, Detroit 3D.  Boettcher's invoice describes the work as "NEW OFFICE" and lists "BOBBY FERGUSON" as the client, while the invoice submitted by Ferguson lists his name nowhere.

Boettcher says he's never heard of Detroit 3D.

9:06--First witness: The government's first witness is Chris Boettcher, president of AirTec, a company that Bobby Ferguson used to refurbish some of his offices.

9:00--Say a little prayer: With his hands folded at the table and his head bowed, Kwame Kilpatrick prayed at the defense table as his lawyers and co-defendants stand around him.  His prayer lasted at least two minutes, so perhaps it wasn't that little.  But when you're facing 38 criminal charges, little prayers just might not do the trick.

8:54--Welcome back:  Thanks for coming back to WXYZ.com as we continue to live blog all the details to come out of federal court.  So far, the only defendant missing from the defense table is Bobby Ferguson. 

The courtroom is far from packed, with most rows either empty or holding just a couple of people.  If you're interested in watching the proceedings yourself, there's still plenty of room for you.

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