Mistrial declared in Bobby Ferguson Detroit bid-rigging trial

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A judge has declared a mistrial on all counts in the bid-rigging trial of controversial Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson.

The office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade has issued the following statement about the mistrial:

We are disappointed that these jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, but we appreciate their time and their work. We will try this case again because it is so important to the citizens of Detroit, who deserve so much better. We will do all we can to hold accountable defendants who are charged with cheating to obtain lucrative public contracts and then dumping contaminated soil on a housing project for low-income families just so that they can be paid to clean it up. We are confident in the merits and strength of this case.

The jury in the Ferguson case told a judge Tuesday afternoon that they had failed to reach any unanimous verdict on any of the count against any of the defendants. 

At 2:30 this afternoon, Judge David Lawson told jurors he understood they were at an impasse, and instructed them to fill out their jury forms and return shortly.  More than two-hours passed and it was not clear if the jury resumed deliberations before the mistrial was declared.   

The statement that the jury was deadlocked contradicted what had been said in court Friday: that they had reached a verdict on at least some counts. 

The trial against Ferguson and his co-defendants lasted more than six weeks and included approximately 80 witnesses and scores of exhibits. Deliberations were interrupted twice: once when a juror suffered a health scare, and again when another juror had to drop out for a pre-paid family vacation.|

The government's most serious charges against Ferguson and his co-defendants, Michael Woodhouse and Calvin Hall, involved rigging bids for a lucrative city contract. Prosecutors alleged the scheme gave Ferguson the inside-track to a $12 million subcontract awarded by Xcel— a company the feds argued he secretly controlled—which was doing business with the City of Detroit.

The feds also accused Ferguson of dumping contaminated soil on the Garden Views Estates project in Detroit. They said he dropped sewage and other contaminants from an unrelated project he was working on, and then charged the city more than $700,000 to clean it up.  That charge carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Ferguson, already a convicted felon over a pistol-whipping incident years ago, was also charged with possessing firearms that agents found when they raided his home and office, a felony with a penalty of 10 years behind bars.

Beginning in September, the feds will have another crack at Ferguson who, along with his friend former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and others, is charged with an elaborate racketeering scheme.  The feds say Kilpatrick, his father, Ferguson and former Kilpatrick aide Victor Mercado ran a criminal enterprise that shook down city contractors for money and gifts.

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