Day 22: Bobby Ferguson threatened to cancel my city jobs, says contractor

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged from day 22 of the Kilpatrick corruption trial.  Got a question?  E-mail Ross at rjones@wxyz.com or follow him on Twitter @RossJones7.  Follow along below:

12:56--End of the week: The prosecution seems content ending it there for today.  We'll see you back Monday for more testimony from Hardiman. 

12:50--Another proposal: After Lakeshore won a city contract to rehabilitate city sewers and watermains, Ferguson expressed interest in joining Lakeshore's team.  Hardiman agreed to let him on. 

Lakeshore had already made a subcontract with another firm--owned by Angelo D'Alessandro--to do some work for the job. But that wasn't okay with Bobby Ferguson, who called Hardiman while he was out of town.

Ferguson muscled D'Alessandro's crew out, though, when he allegedly told Hardiman this.

"I will shut these (expletive) jobs down," he testified.

12:35--Ferguson took more work: When Hardiman was selected to do work replacing water mains underneath 7 neighborhood streets, Ferguson allegedly told Hardiman: "Those are my streets."

Hardiman said he responded: "You're crazy," but ultimately paid Ferguson to do the work.  He paid him with a series of checks in the amounts of $1,222,916, $50,837,  $21,820, $58,000, $65,401 and $18,328.

It totaled $1,437,304.73.

12:31--"I'll get your contracts stopped:" If he didn't meet his demands, Ferguson told Hardiman on multiple occasions: "I'll get your contracts stopped."

"Mr. Ferguson doesn't work for the city of Detroit," Chutkow said. "Why would you take those threats seriously?"

Hardiman said he and his business partner were afraid their contracts would be canceled, like they were before.

12:26--Fear: Chutkow is trying to drive home just how fearful Hardiman was of losing out on city business. He asked Hardiman how he felt about paying Xcel. 

"Xcel was brought to us by Bobby Ferguson, and we were not going to do anything to upset Bobby Ferguson," he said.

Hardiman is speaking softly and appears stoic.

12:23--More payments: There were more checks from A & H to Xcel for consulting services: $55,555.55, $22,222.22, $100,000, $50,000, $22,222.22, $200,000, $150,000.  It all added up to $622, 221.22

The payments were made in 2007 and 2008. 

12:20--Parasite: Hardiman said he was furious with Ferguson's colleague Calvin Hall, who collected the checks from A & H.  Hardiman called him a "parasite" to his face.  He says he felt required to pay the money Ferguson desired. 

12:00--He paid: A & H, Hardiman's other company, agreed to pay XCel Construction $400,000.

"Why?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow

"Because," Hardiman said deliberately, "Bobby Ferguson had a relationship with people downtown."

11:50--You need the help: After Lakeshore had been awarded work for the city's water main replacement, Hardiman says Ferguson visited him again.

"Xcel Construction will be on your team," Ferguson allegedly said. Xcel was a company linked to Ferguson.

"Why," asked Hardiman.

"Because you guys need the help," Ferguson responded.

"We don't need the help," Hardiman said.

"You really do," Ferguson responded. 

Hardiman called it "insanity." 

11:26--Short break: Stay with us, testimony will resume soon.

11:21--Climate of fear: How concerned was Hardiman about people finding out he was paying Ferguson for no work? Well he hid his payments to Ferguson and his companies by having them made through another company of his.  He was fearful that Lakeshore Employees would ask questions about why Ferguson was being paid, even though he wasn't performing work for them.

"I didn't want it to get back to Bobby," Hardiman said, for fear he would give him problems.

11:17--More than a million: Hardiman says Ferguson was paid more than $1 million for work he never performed. 

11:12--Paid for no work, again: Remember that $450,000 that Ferguson was promised in exchange for not holding up any change orders?  Well the invoice Ferguson handed him was for that very same amount: for things like "inspection services," "management services," environmental equipment, materials and more. 

Ferguson provided none of it.  The only thing he did to earn the money, Hardiman said, was not hold up his change orders. 

11:10--Bad speller: If his text messages are any indication, we know that Bobby Ferguson isn't a very strong speller.  So perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that Ferguson appears to have misspelled the name of a company related to him: Johnson Consulting Services.  On an invoice he handed to Hardiman, though, the header reads "Johnson Consulant." 

11:06--Bobby called: Ferguson called Hardiman out of the blue one day, saying: "I want $25,000 today."

"I thought he meant cash," Hardiman said, noting that he panicked, and brought Ferguson the money in cash.

"It was Bobby Ferguson, and I did not want to upset Bobby," he said. 

"I was nervous.  I've never had $25,000 on my person before," Hardiman said. 

11:01--Another contract: Hardiman again teamed up with Ferguson for work in 2005 to perform asbestos removal.  When he sought change orders from the city for that work and the previous project (change orders are submitted when the price of performing city work goes up because of unforeseen circumstance) he went to Ferguson. 

"I told him I didn't want any problems," Hardiman said.  In exchange for Ferguson's help, he said he would give him 5%  of the change order's amount. That would amount to $450,000. Again, he would perform no work for that asbestos contract.

"I felt that it was important that we remain in a good relationship with Bobby Ferguson," he said.

10:56--Paid for no work: To resolve the skirmish, all parties agreed that D'allesandro would perform the work that both he and Ferguson wanted, and Ferguson would be paid $1 million for not performing any work.  That allowed D'Allesandro to be compensated and have work to perform, and Ferguson would be happy too.

10:53--Conflict from the start: Not long after receiving the contract, Ferguson and another member of the team--Angelo D'alessandro--began to butt heads.  Both Ferguson and D'alessandro wanted to do the same work for the project.  Hardiman, however, didn't care who did what: he was glad Lakeshore had the job, and said he needed Ferguson to stay on the $20 million job. 

10:49--Success: After he partnered with Ferguson for new city work, Hardiman and Lakeshore's was selected by the water department and approved by the water board. Lakeshore was authorized to begin work "immediately." 

10:44--Ferguson's cut: Bobby Ferguson would receive one-third of the profits from their partnership, Hardiman testified.

10:41--Tell the world: Once they formed a team, Hardiman wanted to take advantage of his new star player: Ferguson.  A January 26, 2004 text from Hardiman to Bobby Ferguson says: "Bobby don't forget to call Victor Mercado."

Hardiman said he wanted to exploit his partnership with Ferguson.

"Bobby Ferguson has a relationship with Victor, has a relationship with the Mayor, has a relationship with Derrick (Miller).  We wanted everyone to be aware Bobby was on our team," Hardiman said.

10:34--Can't beat 'em, join 'em: Down the road, Hardiman and Lakeshore applied for another city contract.  He teamed up with two others businesses: Lanzo Lining and Ferguson Enterprises, Bobby Ferguson's company.  Ferguson would assist on the construction side. 

Hardiman said he wanted to work with Ferguson because he was getting lots of ity business at the time, and noticed his contracts were not canceled.

"He has an ability to navigate inside the City of Detroit," Hardiman recalls.

10:27--Another cancelation: With his $5 million contract already canceled, Hardiman says in July he received a letter from Mercado telling him that his $10 million contract had been canceled, too.  The work would be performed, Hardiman says, by Inland Waters, a company owned by businessman Tony Soave.

Later, Hardiman learned that Bobby Ferguson was working with Inland Waters on that $10 million contract.

10:24--Short meetings: The first and second meetings were short, sweet and uneventful.  He said Ferguson "didn't know why he was there,"  Hardiman says. 

A meeting later on with Derrick Miller, Kilpatrick's close friend and aide, was also not fruitful.

"He said it was Victor Mercado's decision," Hardiman says Miller told him.

10:22--Go see Bobby: Having exhausted all other possibilities, Hardiman said he took the advice of a Lakeshore Engineering employee and set up a meeting with Bobby Ferguson, the mayor's friend. 

"We had lost $10 million (and) $5 million.  We wanted to figure out what was going on," Hardiman said.

10:21--"Shocked, angry:" Hardiman says he was blown away when he received a letter in the mail three weeks later from Victor Mercado.  It said, in part, "all proposals for the above project are hereby rejected, and the project is canceled."

10:18--Contract is pulled: When Hardiman went to an April 2003 Board of Water Commissioner meeting, where a vote was scheduled to formally approve his contract, he says he was stunned to see "PULLED" stamped across the meeting's agenda, meaning his contract had been pulled from consideration.

10:14--Talks to Bernard: Talking to mom didn't work, so Hardiman went to Kilpatrick's dad Bernard Kilpatrick with his concerns about the contracts not moving forward.  He said Bernard, though, didn't know why the hold-up was taking place.

10:13--Lakeshore to Maestro: The jury is now being shown a $2,500 check from Lakeshore Engineering to Maestro Associates, Bernard Kilpatrick's consulting firm.  "Consulting fee" is written in the memo line, and is dated February 18, 2003. 

10:10--Talked to Milton's mom: After hitting a wall with his call to Kilpatrick's mom, Hardiman called Sandra Ramsey, the mother of Kilpatrick's friends DeDan and Kandia Milton, who worked in the administration as well. But Ramsey was of no help either.

"No one was giving me an answers.  I was upset," Hardiman said, visibly upset.

"It was sitting on his desk and it wasn't moving." 

9:56--Short break: Having some technical issues with the courtroom microphones.  We're on a short break.  Stay with us.

9:46--Call to Kwame's mommy: Don't make me call your mom.  That's exactly what Hardiman did when he couldn't reach Kwame Kilpatrick about the delay in his contract.   What was her response?  Hardiman says she told him: "My son said 'Mom, I love you.  I handle city business, and you handle the government business. Let me handle city business.' "

9:45--Nothing happened: Hardiman was startled, though, when he noticed that his $10 million and $5 million contracts never moved forward.  He later learned that they were "sitting on Victor's desk," a reference to Mercado.  Hardiman then called Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but was surprised when he couldn't reach him.  He was surprised. 

"I couldn't see any reason why I couldn't talk to him," Hardiman said, noting their previous relationship.

9:43--Not concerned: Hardiman says he wasn't concerned by Ferguson's visit because he, too, knew Kilpatrick well.  Still, he and Rachmale later found about 12% of the contract that Ferguson could perform.

"We'll see," he says Ferguson responded.

9:38--Bobby visits: Hardiman says shortly after he was awarded the contract, Bobby Ferguson visited him at his home.  He says Ferguson told him he should be included on the job Hardiman was just awarded "by him being a black guy."  He said Ferguson wanted 25% of the work, but didn't say what he would do for it.

Hardiman wasn't interested, though, saying his "team was full."

Hardiman says Ferguson responded: "It still has to go across the mayor's desk."

9:37--Submits bids: In 2003, Lakeshore submitted bids for work with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).  One contract, Hardiman said, was awarded, while another was pulled.  The contract that was awarded for $10 million.

9:30--Meets Kilpatrick, Ferguson: Hardiman says he met Kilpatrick's mother, then State Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, in the mid-1980s.  Later on, he met Kwame Kilpatrick while he was still in college.  He supported both Kilpatricks with contributions to their subsequent campaigns, even holding fundraisers for them. 

Later, Hardiman would serve on a clean-up/demolition transition team once Kilpatrick was elected mayor.  And wouldn't you know it?  Bobby Ferguson was the chairman of the clean-up/demolition committee. 

9:25--Moving on: In 2003, Hardiman left Lakeshore and purchased A & H Contractors, where he currently works.  At the time, Lakeshore was making $12-14 million annually; much less than it makes today.

9:23--Special relationship: Hardiman says that, unlike Rachmale, he was a wild spender.  Rachmale, however, was very fiscally conservative.  Hardiman relied on Rachmale to teach him how to spend more conservatively and, together, they helped grow Lakeshore into a major corporation that now includes a healthcare division. 

9:17--History of work: Hardiman is talking about another key witness we'll hear from later in this case: Avinash Rachmale.  Rachmale met Hardman in 1994 at the Detroit Minority Business Development Center.  In 1997, Rachmale asked Hardmin to work for him as a consultant for his new business, Lakeshore Engineering. 

9:10--Here comes Hardiman: This should be interesting.  Up now is city contractor Thomas Hardiman, the president of construction company A & H Contractors.

9:00--TGIF: Despite the Tigers' loss, everyone seems to be in good spirits this morning...perhaps because it's Friday.  We'll begin today with EPA agent Carol Paskiewicz, who is still under cross-examination by Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas.  But shortly, we expect that city contractor Thomas Hardiman will take the stand.  Expect some fireworks. 

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