Official says he was told ex-mayor wanted to revoke certification; move helped Ferguson win bid

(WXYZ) - A city worker testified in the Kilpatrick corruption case Thursday that he thought the contracting process in Detroit was being tampered with.

The chief compliance officer in the city's human rights department took the stand Thursday, telling the jury that his boss told him Kwame Kilpatrick wanted them to revoke a key certification for one company.
And losing that certification changed the results of who got a multi-million dollar contract.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick isn't answering questions about who ordered one company's special business certification to be revoked.

Detroit Human Rights Chief Compliance Officer Kim Harris told the jury in the Kilpatrick corruption case that his boss told him to take away the Detroit Headquartered Business Certification of a company called DLZ.  

That Detroit Headquarters certification means extra points for companies hoping to score city work.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his friend Bobby Ferguson are all on trial, accused of lining their pockets by steering water department business to Ferguson's companies.

DLZ has offices here on West Congress in Downtown Detroit.  Defense lawyers say DLZ was actually headquartered in Ohio, but Harris testified that according to the city charter - DLZ qualified for the headquarters certification.

Federal prosecutors allege that when DLZ was part of a winning bid for a multi-million dollar water main project, Kilpatrick and Ferguson conspired to revoke their headquarters status, which knocked them out of the top spot for the contract. Ferguson's joint venture got the deal instead.

Harris testified that when he was told to investigate DLZ's headquarters status – he "felt the contract process was being tampered with."

Harris said boss, Human Rights Director Gerard Grant Phillips, told him the "the mayor wants it done."

Phillips is now deceased, so the jury can't hear directly from him about DLZ losing their certification.

"Unfortunately we're at a disadvantage in this particular case because we can't cross examine a dead guy," said Ferguson attorney Mike Rataj.

"Wait till cross examination then come to your conclusions," said Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas.

Also Thursday, lawyers continued questioning Water Department Deputy Director Darryl Latimer. The feds allege the Kilpatrick Enterprise worked together to kill certain water department deals unless contractors would work with Ferguson.  While the defense got Latimer to admit some contracts were cancelled to save money, federal prosecutors reminded the jury about a text message exchange between Ferguson and Kilpatrick where they discussed one of those deals behind the scenes.

"There's no context to those text messages, all you have is words on paper on a certain date, and obviously people are trying to associate them with certain things that they claimed happened, and that's just very difficult to do from where I sit," said Ferguson lead attorney Gerald Evelyn.

Kim Harris will face more questioning on Friday.

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