Day 24: Defense says Ferguson was mistreated, but still helped Detroit contractor get work

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Earlier today, 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones as blogged all the details to come from federal court at the Kilpatrick corruption trial.  Follow along below:

12:55--Done for today: Thanks for joining us.  Hardiman will be back on the stand tomorrow.

12:45--Holding up: Cross-examination has sometimes gotten tense between Evelyn and Hardiman, but Hardiman has done a nice job keeping his composure.

Evelyn, for what it's worth, seems to be holding up nicely and appears to be in good health and good spirits.

12:43--More experience: I'm not sure this helps fight the extortion charge, but Evelyn is doing a nice job getting Hardiman to acknowledge that Ferguson's company was well-respected for its work.

"(Ferguson Enterprises) had way more experience than A&H,"  Hardiman said, speaking about a ruptured water main he asked Ferguson to help repair.

Hardiman said he had a good relationship for Ferguson--at least for a while--because they were both African-American businessmen working in Detroit, and shared a special bond.

"If I needed assistance, I could give Bobby a call," he said.

12:25--Another break: Last break of the day.  Stay with us.

12:20--Slow day: As you may have noticed, today's testimony has been slower than we're used to.  The defense has spent a lot of time going over details over work performed and not covered a lot of ground.  Juror fatigue is always something that I think both sides need to worry about, but I also wonder if it generally seems to favor the defense or prosecution. 

If a juror is confused or loses interest, who do you think that helps/hurts most?

12:05--Bobby to the rescue: Evenlyn is asking Hardiman about a water main job that his company A&H performed for the city.  Apparently, there was a flood and A&H needed to call Ferguson's company to help fix it.  Evelyn's point?  Ferguson knew his stuff, and did good work.

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

11:15--Tension: Hardiman says he doesn't remember Erdman and other employees of Ferguson's, a point that Evelyn has tried to drive home several times. But Judge Nancy Edmunds has asked Evelyn to stop repeatedly asking the same questions, given that Hardiman has answered them and his answers aren't changing. 

Evelyn pushed back somewhat, but says he'll follow the Judge's orders.

10:32--Short break: We're taking a 20 minute break before resuming testimony.  Stay with us, folks.

10:28--Fake employees? Ferguson also loaned A&H Shakib Deria, another one of his employees.  But it lists Deria as an employee of A&H for 8 years, which was not true. He was an employee of Ferguson Enterprises.

10:23--Loaned from Ferguson: Bobby Ferguson helped boost Hardiman's company, A&H Construction, on a bid it made on another city project when it let A&H "borrow" one of its supervisors, Fred Erdman. 

Erdman had an impressive resume, working on some of Detroit's major construction projects.  Evelyn is probably trying to show that Ferguson wasn't a greedy manipulator; in fact, he was letting Hardiman use some of his most talented employees to get city business.

10:20--A little slow: Today's testimony is a little slower than we're used to.  Stay with us...

9:58--Planning: It seems like the texts are nothing explosive, just establishing that years before being awarded the work, Hardiman, Ferguson and others were having meetings about putting together their plan. 

9:50--Text messages: Texts are currently being shown to the jury that appear to be between Hardiman and others regarding the city work he's been testifying about.  However, because the camera that's focused on the text messages isn't zoomed in far enough, we can't read what they say.  Hopefully that problem will be addressed soon.

9:41--Did he or didn't he?  Evelyn asked Hardiman if Bobby Ferguson ever told him that he would have his contracts stopped if he didn't hire him.

"The only thing he said is that it has to go across the Mayor's desk," Hardiman said.

Two weeks ago, though, Hardiman testified that Ferguson told him: "I'll get your contracts stopped" if he didn't meet his demands.

9:35--Muscled out? Evelyn is trying to argue that Bobby Ferguson was actually a victim in at least one of the bids being discussed today.  Essentially, he's saying that Hardiman's company Lakeshore Engineering used Bobby Ferguson's company's minority status on a bid to be selected by the City of Detroit. 

But after Lakeshore was awarded the work, Evelyn says, another company named Lonzo Construction tried to take the work Ferguson was supposed to be performing. Ultimately, Lonzo paid Ferguson's company to take the work he was supposed to be awarded.

It's a little confusing, because we're dealing with lots of companies here, but Evelyn's point is that Ferguson wasn't being greedy and forcing a company to pay him for no work. Rather, he was being being paid as a sort of "settlement."

9:25--Racism: Hardiman acknowledges that he and Bobby Ferguson discussed "institutional racism" during the 10 years that they knew each other.

"You both believed in giving back to the black community," Evelyn said to Hardiman.

"Yes," he responded.

9:23--Refresing his memory: Mostly, Evelyn's cross-examination this morning has been a refresher of things he and Hardiman went over last week, like Hardiman's efforts to create relationships with city officials by holding fundraisers. 

9:09--Hardiman back up: Thomas Hardiman, the Detroit businessman who earlier testified that he was extorted by Bobby Ferguson for years, is back on the stand now.  Evelyn is continuing his cross-examination right now.

"How are you," asked Hardiman, who was on the stand when Evelyn had his medical episode a couple weeks back.

"Better," Evelyn responded.

The former mayor smiled. 

9:06--Remember me? Welcome back, everyone.  It's been about two weeks since we were here last, when Bobby Ferguson's attorney Gerald Evelyn had a medical episode in court and we took a break for him to recuperate.  We're happy to report that he's back today, and doing well. 

Victor Mercado, however, is gone.  He took a plea deal last week, but the jury will not be told.  In fact, Judge Nancy Edmunds just instructed the jury "not to speculate as to the reason for the absence of Mr. Mercado."

This is a standard court procedure, and is done so as to not disadvantage the other defendants.

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